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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
To comply with the Affordable Care Act, Wyoming lawmakers still have to determine whether they want to provide more health insurance to people who cannot afford it, and what such a plan would look like.
The legislature soundly defeated a proposal to expand the current Medicaid program, so the Wyoming Department of Health has pitched a new proposal where people could purchase a scaled-down version of Medicaid Insurance.
Department Director Tom Forslund said that users would have to participate like consumers who have private insurance.
Recently the Wyoming Department of Health submitted a revised plan on how the state could expand Medicaid Services to more people.
It would require some of the new participants to pay into the system, much like they would do if they owned insurance. They’d do this on a sliding fee scale depending on their income. While he is still nervous about the federal government’s financial commitment to the effort, Governor Matt Mead says that the program could provide more health care to more people and also save the state money.
Wyoming Medicaid is removing a cap on the number of people who can receive long-term care at home. Long-term care is assistance for older adults who are not able to function on their own.
Jesse Springer with Wyoming Medicaid says the change will mean that more elderly individuals will have the option to stay in their homes or communities, rather than move to nursing homes. He says it also makes financial sense.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a number of things are changing concerning Medicaid in Wyoming. Jan Stahl is the eligibility and operations administrator for the Wyoming Department of Health. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck spoke with Stahl, who says the changes will take place January first.
More than 90 people gathered this week at the Teton County Library in Jackson to hear St. John's Medical Center CEO Dr. Lou Hochheiser explain health care reform.
Hochheiser told the crowd that as part of health care reform the federal government would be cutting what it pays hospitals to treat Medicaid and Medicare patients by five-to-25 percent. He said the goal is to use some of those savings to pay for expanding Medicaid coverage... essentially, paying less per patient in order to cover more people.
The Wyoming House of Representatives has finished its version of a massive Medicaid reform bill.
The bill will create two tiers in the current Development Disability waiver program. That means that people who need fewer services will not be allocated more funding then they need.
House Labor and Health Committee Chairwoman Elaine Harvey says that change will allow more people to benefit from the program. She says they also have made reforms to long-term care that should better help Wyoming residents.
During debate on a Medicaid reform bill, the Wyoming House of Representatives rejected an amendment that would have expanded Medicaid for over 17,000 uninsured state residents. Supporters noted that the state has looked for ways to reduce health care costs and they say the expansion would accomplish that. House Labor and Health Committee Chairwoman Elaine Harvey says the issue requires more study. The federal will pay 100 percent of the first three years of the expansion. Harvey says Wyoming can join at a later date.
A massive bill that attempts to reform Wyoming’s current Medicaid program was given initial approval in the State House of Representatives. One of the goals of the bill is to establish caps on how much is spent in the developmental disability program. What lawmakers want to do is limit spending to what’s really necessary for clients in the program. Evansville Republican Kendall Kroeker says his son receives services from the program and only requires a minimal amount of money, so he supports the new limits.
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 soundly defeated a bill that would have led to the state expanding Medicaid Services for nearly 30 thousand more Wyoming residents. States can opt to expand the services under the Affordable Care Act and the federal government will pay the total cost for the first 36 months of the expansion starting in 2014. Senator John Schiffer of Kaycee says Medicaid costs have hurt the state, but if the state expands, it means the federal government will pay for services that Wyoming currently pays for. He says that is a good deal.
The Senate Health and Labor Committee has voted down a measure that would expand Medicaid services in the state. The program would allow more low income people to qualify for health insurance coverage.