Senate Kills Medicaid Expansion

Feb 6, 2015

Senator Charles Scott Debates Medicaid Expansion.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Media

The Wyoming Senate has killed a bill that would have provided Medicaid Services to nearly 18 thousand people.  Only 11 of the 30 Senators voted for the bill.   Riverton Republican Eli Bebout said the time was not right, but Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss disagreed.  He said the need for expansion is great.

“For the last three years we’ve have the lives of 17,600 folks here in Wyoming in our hands to some degree with their access to affordable health care.  And we’ve worked hard over those years to come up with the best approach for Wyoming that we could put together. “

Gillette Republican Michael Von Flatern says the federal government would pay the state for the initial expansion and pay 90 percent of the cost after that.

“What we are doing is taking $120 million dollars a year into this state.  We are creating the equivalent of 800 jobs and what’s more importantly we are attempting to take care of the health of 17,600 people that are falling through the cracks.”

Casper Republican Charles Scott said railed against the legislation.  He said he doubted that the federal government would be able to afford its share of the expansion costs.  He also doubted that the state would be able to drop the program.  

“When did we last give up a major benefit program.  We’ll be under tremendous pressure from the providers, from the beneficiaries, and we’ll have to come up with 60 million.”

Scott said that would mean they’d have to cut spending for local government and the University just to pay that bill.

After the Senate defeated the bill, House Labor and Health Committee Chair Elaine Harvey decided not to bring a similar Medicaid Expansion bill to the House floor calling it a waste of time. 

But Harvey says they have to find a way to help that population of people who are without health care.  Minority Floor Leader Mary Throne said she is livid that the House won’t be able to debate the bill.  Governor Matt Mead also expressed his disappointment.