Affordable Care Act

A Medicaid fraud recovery bill has gotten initial approval from the House of Representatives. The bill would permit the state to investigate Medicaid fraud by medical providers and recipients without involving the federal government… Currently investigations only go forward when the federal government decides to investigate.

Representative Elaine Harvey says the bill is necessary to recover millions of dollars for the state.

The State Senate has given initial approval to a bill that will allow out-of-state health insurance companies to offer policies in Wyoming.  The goal of the legislation is to encourage competition and possibly lower health insurance costs.

Wyoming consumers have limited health insurance choices and supporters hope the bill will fix this. However,  Senator Bill Landen of Casper says he is worried that the legislation could harm Wyoming insurers, by bringing in unwanted competition. 

In preparation for President Obama’s announcement proposing gun control legislation last week, Wyoming lawmakers acted fast to propose bills making any such law unenforceable in the state. Wyoming’s Congressional delegation has also said that this legislation is not the way to go.

Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis has said that it would be better to focus on services for mentally ill people.

Governor Matt Mead is urging legislators not to dismiss health care issues, but to study them and craft a Wyoming response to the Affordable Care Act.  During his state of the state message today, Mead asked legislators to study both the health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion. 

Wyoming Legislature set to convene today

Jan 8, 2013

The Wyoming Legislature is set to convene at noon today for the first day of its general session, which is set to run through early March.
Lawmakers generally take care of housekeeping matters on the first day and won't get down to business until after Gov. Matt Mead delivers his annual state of the state address tomorrow morning.

The Legislature’s Joint Health and Labor Committee will once again take up the issue of Health Insurance Exchanges this week.   An exchange is an on-line marketplace where consumers can purchase health insurance. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, states have to either set up their own exchanges or the federal government will set one up for them.  Senator Dan Dockstader is among those preparing exchange legislation for the state, but he says Wyoming needs a partner if the state is to be part of a non-federal marketplace.

The Democratic candidate for Wyoming’s lone U-S House seat says that the health care overhaul known as the Affordable Care Act is nothing more than a market solution for the nation’s health care problem. 

Chris Henrichsen says it didn’t change as much as Republicans claim.

According to a study conducted for the state of Wyoming, expanding Medicaid could cost the state millions. 

Governor Matt Mead says the study shows that the Affordable Care Act will force the state to expand Medicaid coverage to some current children and adults between the years 2014 and 2020.  But if Wyoming decides to follow the federal proposal to expand even further. Mead says the state’s share of costs will be high.

“There projections are from 2014 to 2020 the cost to the state of Wyoming for Medicaid expansion could be between 53 million and 310 million dollars. “

In upholding the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has also affirmed the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Many Native Americans receive healthcare through the Indian Health Service, or IHS, with more than 10,000 people in Wyoming eligible for services, and 2-million nationwide.

The Supreme Court, in a five-four decision, upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The justices ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional under the commerce clause, but can go ahead as a tax.

The individual mandate requires that all people must buy health insurance. For insurance companies, that means they’ll be getting a large, new pool of customers. In Wyoming, 17-percent of the population is currently uninsured, compared to a nationwide average of 16-percent.  

Analysts predict that the Supreme Court’s decision upholding most of the Affordable Care Act will strengthen President Barack Obama’s position for reelection this November. Obama’s critics had charged that the healthcare law was unconstitutional, but, the court’s ruling now effectively removes that line of argument.

Jim King is a professor of political science at the University of Wyoming. He says Republicans will continue criticizing the content of the law, but will most likely use the healthcare act as a means of energizing voters.

Wyoming's Congressional leaders are voicing their disdain for the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act.

Senator John Barrasso says despite the court’s ruling, the law is unworkable, unpopular, and bad for patients, providers and taxpayers. And he urged voters to remove elected officials in order to repeal the law.

Wyoming’s largest health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield says they’re unsure what effects will be felt in the state should the Supreme Court strike down the Affordable Care Act.

Wendy Curran is with Blue Cross Blue Shield. She says the insurance giant has been working hard to get up-to-date with provisions laid out by the ACA. However, should the act be struck down, she says many of the acts provisions would likely remain. But all eyes are on one key provision:

A series of town hall meeting around the state will be held to glean public opinion on healthcare exchanges - a set of state regulated, standardized healthcare plans from which individuals may purchase insurance that’s eligible for federal subsidies.

Elizabeth Hoy serves as the Governor’s Health Policy Advisor. She says the meetings are being held because the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, requires states to create health exchanges, where consumers can shop for competitive rates for health insurance.

Hoy says many small businesses are on board with the changes.

New proposals by state and federal officials might help authorities crack down on fraudulent and insolvent insurance trusts.

On Monday, the Department of Labor announced that new regulations under the Affordable Care Act would give the agency more power to oversee associations composed of multiple employers. They’re called MEWA’s for short.

The Joint Labor, Health and Social Services interim committee will also meet to discuss a proposed bill that aims to provide the state’s insurance department more authority over health insurance trusts and plans.