Medicaid

More healthcare providers around Wyoming are expressing worry over the Senate’s healthcare bill released last week.

The Downtown Clinic in Laramie provides primary care and emergency dental services to people without any healthcare coverage.

Pete Gosar, the clinic’s executive director, said the bill may make it more difficult to provide coverage there. The clinic recently had to extend its operating hours, staying open two days a week instead of one, to accommodate all 700 patients.

Wyoming Medical Center

The U.S. Senate released its version of a healthcare bill Thursday. Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso helped craft the legislation, and they say it will be an improvement over the Affordable Care Act. But the head of the state's largest hospital is worried.

Vickie Diamond, CEO of the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, said ultimately the bill would hurt hospitals in Wyoming. She said the biggest impact would be from the bill’s significant decrease in federal Medicaid funding, starting in 2021.

University of Wyoming

As Wyoming faces tough choices about how to balance its budget, a new survey from the University of Wyoming looks at what the public would choose. 

It's the first scientific look at citizen opinion on the budget.

“Effectively we have three choices to face a budget deficit: Raise revenue, that’s increase taxes, cut services or agency budgets, or thirdly take money out of our savings account, the rainy day fund," said Rob Godby, one of the organizers of the survey. "And we were trying to figure out what combination or single action was most popular with people.”

Bob Beck

  

Legislators have been talking about reforming health care in the state for at least 25 years. Access to health care providers is difficult, finding affordable health care is a challenge, and so after another Medicaid Expansion defeat the legislature’s Health and Labor committee spent the summer trying to find ways to improve health care in the state without spending much money. 

Gillette Representative Eric Barlow said the committee crafted 17 bills that will address a wide range of issues in health care. One bill involves nurses.

Melodie Edwards

The state of Wyoming along with the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone tribes have successfully submitted an application for a Medicaid Waiver.

If the Center for Medicaid and Medicare approves the application, the Medicaid Waiver could inject almost $17 million dollars a year into tribal health services on the Wind River Indian Reservation where there’s a severe shortage of healthcare providers.

Wikimedia Commons

Planned Parenthood came under fire when videos surfaced of its employees discussing the distribution of fetal tissue for research. A bill to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood was blocked by the U.S. Senate, but some House Republicans say they will continue the effort to the defund the organization after summer recess.

Following the adoption of the Affordable Care Act, Wyoming’s Northern Arapahoe tribal members signed up in high numbers for fully subsidized health insurance, many of whom had never received any before.

Now, a federal judge in Casper says it’s not the responsibility of the federal government to pay for tribal health care. It’s the responsibly of the tribe. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled against the tribe in its lawsuit with the IRS, arguing that under the ACA the Northern Arapaho tribe qualifies as a large employer.

Bob Beck

Earlier this year when the legislature voted down Medicaid expansion, lawmakers realized that some hospitals were struggling to make up for the fact that some people cannot afford to pay their medical bills.  So after a lot of discussion, they provided roughly three million dollars to be spread among the smaller rural hospitals. But some thought that was not enough, so two legislative committees are looking into what else can be done to help. 

Melodie Edwards

This year, while Wyoming lawmakers were voting down Medicaid Expansion in the state, they also approved a Medicaid Waiver for the state’s two tribes, potentially pumping some $16 million of aid into the reservation’s health system. The health crisis on the Wind River Reservation is now at critical levels, but tripling the amount that the tribe’s receive for health care could help.

In March, Northern Arapaho member Cherokee Brown’s daughter brought her a tooth. She didn’t think much about it. Kids lose teeth.

The number of people in Wyoming who have purchased health insurance through the federal health insurance marketplace has nearly doubled since last year. More than 21,000 consumers signed up for plans in 2015 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, nearly 12,000 people signed up for a plan.

Monica Jennings is a Marketplace Navigator with Enroll Wyoming. She says despite many Wyomingites enrolling, there are still many in the state without health coverage who would have benefited from Medicaid expansion.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the federal agencies in charge of Medicaid are open to innovative expansion proposals. He says that could convince legislators to adopt a Medicaid Expansion program in Wyoming. The proposal the state is working on would require those eligible for the program to contribute to it. 

Stephanie Joyce

Governor Matt Mead may be changing his mind when it comes to expanding Medicaid services for low income people in the state. After publicly rejecting the notion of Medicaid expansion late last year, the governor says he is negotiating in good faith with the federal department of Health and Human Services to develop a Wyoming specific Medicaid expansion plan. 

Wyoming Medicaid Numbers Remain Steady

May 13, 2014

Earlier this month the U-S Department of Health and Human Services indicated that Wyoming’s Medicaid and the Children’s Insurance Program known as CHIP had lost four thousand participants. 

But the Wyoming Department of Health says both programs are very busy.  The Department’s Jan Stahl says Wyoming numbers go up and down throughout the year.                 

“Our numbers indicate that we had dropped down up until the end of December, but since that time our numbers have been climbing back up.”

Rebecca Huntington

With the deadline looming to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, healthcare-dot-gov navigators are seeing a surge in people seeking help. Wyoming Public Radio's Rebecca Huntington has more.

"Thanks for your patience, you'll have our undivided attention shortly. Your access to quality, affordable coverage is just a few minutes away."

Bob Beck

The Wyoming legislative session wrapped up this week and three issues dominated.  One was the state budget.  Another was the legislature’s decision to reject federal dollars to expand Medicaid, and the final issue was the Supreme Court Decision that said that it was unconstitutional for the legislature to demote State Superintendent Cindy Hill. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck asked lawmakers about some of those issues and has this report.

Bob Beck

Members of Wyoming's Republican leadership raved about the legislative session that wrapped up Thursday, praising the state budget and lawmakers' support of business.  The GOP leaders said the budget will do a lot for the state, but they noted that they were also able to put a lot into savings.  Although the Senate Appropriations Committee was criticized for focusing too much on saving, Chairman Eli Bebout says in fact they probably spent too much. He says the energy industry could face tough times in Wyoming and it's important to be prepared.

The Wyoming House and Senate have agreed to changes in the state budget bill.  The bill gives public employees a roughly 2.4 percent pay hike, provides money for improvements at community colleges and the University of Wyoming, and $175 million for local governments.  Senator Eli Bebout called it a responsible budget.

Although the final attempt to expand Medicaid in Wyoming was defeated by the State Senate on Friday, a House budget amendment would direct the executive branch to work with the federal government to try and resolve the issue.

The Governor would ask for a waiver so that lawmakers might have another chance to vote on a specified Medicaid expansion program next year.  Because there are federal funds involved, states must get approval from the feds in order to move forward with their own plans.  Pinedale Republican Albert Sommers likes the idea.

The State Senate easily defeated a proposed budget amendment that would expand Medicaid Services in the state by a vote of 21 to 9.  Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss says it’s a chance to bring health care to over 17 thousand people in the state.  Senate Health and Labor Chairman Charles Scott continued his opposition to Medicaid expansion by saying that it will encourage people to over utilize health care.  Rothfuss says his proposal actually would address that.

A number of speakers asked the Legislature's Joint Labor and Health Committee to pass a bill that would expand Medicaid services in the state. However the committee adjourned and did not return to vote on the bill. 

The measure would use federal money to provide insurance well over 17-thousand uninsured people in Wyoming. Supporters ranged from Laramie County who's concerned about raising taxes to make up for 12 million dollars in uncompensated care to those who can't afford health insurance. 

The Wyoming House of Representatives failed to introduce the second of two committee-sponsored Medicaid Expansion bills, essentially ending the chance that lawmakers will approve an expansion this session.

The bill was based on the Medicaid fit program that was created by the Wyoming Department of Health. Cheyenne Republican Sue Wilson urged the House to debate it.

A plan to expand Medicaid for Wyoming’s Native American population has failed in the Wyoming House of Representatives. 

A proposed bill would have allowed the state to go ahead with a demonstration program that was intended to help improve the health care of Native Americans.

Democrat Patrick Goggles of Fort Washakie was disappointed that the bill failed to get the 40 votes needed for it to move forward.  But Goggles adds that 32 people voted for it which tells him that it could pass in the future.

A bill that would use federal money to help poor people buy insurance was soundly defeated in the Wyoming Senate.

The so-called Arkansas Plan would use federal Medicaid expansion money to help those who need insurance to buy it through the state.  Instead of people being on Medicaid, they would have actual insurance. 

The Senate Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee recommended passing the bill last month, but Senator Charles Scott who chairs the committee voted against the bill because he says it's a long way from being workable for Wyoming.

Last week a legislative committee recommended passage of two bills that could provide health insurance to several thousand low income Wyoming residents.  The bills would use federal Medicaid expansion dollars to provide the health insurance.  But Committee member Lee Filer doubts either bill will get far this session…mainly because many Republicans are concerned that the federal government will not keep its promise to pay for the insurance.

Members of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee voted Friday to advance two Medicaid expansion bills to the full Legislature for consideration in the budget session that starts next month.

On Thursday, several witnesses told committee members that said they can't afford health insurance on the open market.

A legislative committee was still trying to determine Thursday evening if it will recommend passage of a bill that will either expand Medicaid services in the state or use Federal Medicaid dollars to provide affordable insurance to low income people in the state. Senator Charles Scott says they need a bill that will get two-thirds support from both the committee and the legislature, and the votes just aren’t there. Cheyenne Representative Lee Filer said he’s surprised by the political opposition, because he mostly hears from supporters.

Wyoming Democratic Party leaders have criticized Governor Matt Mead for opposing a full Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. There are over 17,000 low-income adults in the state and State Democratic Party Chairman Pete Gosar says it's not right to oppose the expansion, since Mead isn’t proposing another option.

At a press conference last week, Mead said that on that count, Gosar is right.

Recently Governor Matt Mead made it clear that he does not support using federal dollars to expand Medicaid services for Wyoming’s poor.  State Democratic Party Chairman Pete Gosar tells Bob Beck that’s the wrong move.

No action taken on Medicaid proposals

Nov 6, 2013

The Legislature’s Joint Health and Labor Committee took no action on three bills that would address expanding Medicaid Services in the state. 

The committee will vote on the legislation in January, although a pilot project that would provide Medicaid expansion on the Wind River Reservation was assigned to another committee that deals with Native American issues.  

A group from Fremont County will rally before a legislative meeting Tuesday/Today to encourage the committee support expanding the state’s Medicaid program. 

The Joint Health and Labor committee will consider a revised expansion proposal from the Department of Health that would provide a limited expansion of Medicaid. 

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