Medicaid Expansion Bill Passes Wyoming House
For the first time in almost a decade, a bill to expand eligibility for the Medicaid program has passed the Wyoming House of Representatives.
The vote on Wednesday morning was 32-28.
House Bill 162 is now headed to the state Senate, where a largely similar bill died. earlier this week after failing to meet a legislative deadline. If it becomes law, the measure would extend coverage to people making 138 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
That works out to $12,880 for a single person or $36,570 for a family of four people.
It is believed that about 24,000 to 25,000 people in Wyoming who don't currently have health insurance would be eligible under the expansion, although opponents worry that number could end up being much higher. The federal government currently picks up 90 percent of the cost for expansion. The state would have to pay the remaining 10 percent.
Supporters of the bill say the expansion would mostly cover the working poor, and point to the argument that Wyoming hospitals are currently being forced to provide around $100 million per year for people without health insurance. They also say the measure would pump millions of dollars in federal money into the state economy, providing a much-needed economic boost.
But opponents fear that the estimates of the number of people who would sign up for Medicaid in the state are on the low side, and say that coming up with 10 percent of the money to fund the program is still a significant expenditure at a time when state government is looking at major revenue shortfalls.
Some opponents also don't trust the feds to keep paying 90 percent of the cost of the program, and say the expansion is not what Medicaid was originally intended for.
Bills to expand Medicaid have been introduced for years in the Wyoming Legislature, but have always failed to win final approval. Here is how the House voted on the bill on Wednesday:
Ayes: BANKS, BROWN, CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, CRAGO, DUNCAN, EKLUND, EYRE, HARSHMAN, HENDERSON, KINNER, BARLOW, LARSEN, L, MACGUIRE, MARTINEZ, NEWSOME, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, OBERMUELLER, O'HEARN, OLSEN, PAXTON, PROVENZA, ROSCOE, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, SOMMERS, STITH, SWEENEY, WILSON, YIN, ZWONITZER
Nays: ANDREW, BAKER, BEAR, BLACKBURN, BURKHART, BURT, CLAUSEN, FLITNER, FORTNER, GRAY, GREEAR, HALLINAN, HAROLDSON, HEINER, HUNT, JENNINGS, KNAPP, LAURSEN, D, NEIMAN, OTTMAN, SIMPSON, STYVAR, WALTERS, WASHUT, WESTERN, WHARFF, WILLIAMS, WINTER