Medicaid expansion

A legislative committee has rejected the Wyoming Department of Health's proposed Medicaid Expansion plan in favor of a bill crafted by the committee.  The Share plan was also endorsed by the governor.

The bill  approved by the committee would provide participants with a Medicaid-funded health savings account that they could use to purchase private insurance.  Senator Charles Scott said that he believes that will encourage participants to be careful with their health care spending.

Gillette Representative Eric Barlow said that remains to be seen.

Bob Beck

Members of a legislative committee say they plan to support at least one bill that would expand Medicaid services in the state to provide Health Insurance to a low income population that can’t afford health insurance.

The committee is looking at two bills and there is a chance they may be combined into one piece of legislation.   The state has proposed a plan where it would use federal dollars to provide health insurance.  Senator Charles Scott has crafted a plan that uses Medicaid dollars to fund a health savings account that participants would use to purchase private insurance.

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The federal government has provided millions of dollars to states to offer Medicaid Health Insurance to what’s known as the working poor. Last week, after months of discussion, the Wyoming Department of Health unveiled its plan for expanding Medicaid in the state. 

Low income people who do not currently qualify for Medicaid and do not make enough money to be able to get insurance via the Affordable Care Act would be eligible. Governor Matt Mead and several health care organizations support the plan, but it still has the difficult task of getting through the legislature.

After months of negotiations with the federal government, the Wyoming Department of Health unveiled a plan today/Wednesday for using federal dollars to expand Medicaid in the state. The proposed state plan is called Share and it includes provision for work training, Co-pays and Health Assessments.  Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss is a supporter of expanding Medicaid. He says he's okay with the requirement that some people pay a small amount into the plan.

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. 

While Wyoming residents strongly oppose the Affordable Care Act, residents are supportive of expanding Medicaid to provide health care to those who cannot afford it. A University of Wyoming election year survey conducted in mid - August found that only 24 percent of state residents approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 70 percent oppose it.  

University of Wyoming Political Scientist Jim King says people have a different opinion about Medicaid expansion.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says he continues working with federal officials to craft a Medicaid expansion plan for Wyoming.                  

Mead says that he’s concerned that the federal government will not be able to afford the program, but he says it could help people in the state and so he is moving forward with a good faith effort.

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.”

Final numbers show that nearly 12-thousand Wyoming residents have signed up for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  

The U-S Department of Health and Human Services says 93 percent of those who enrolled in Wyoming received financial assistance, which is the highest percentage in the nation. 

Wyoming was also ahead of the national average in another category. Officials say that 29 percent of enrollees are in the 18 to 34 age group. Experts say it's those healthy, young people, who will help pay for the Affordable Care Act.

Lawmakers finishing up work on the state budget have accepted a compromise amendment that encourages the Governor and other members of state government to figure out a way to expand Medicaid under Wyoming terms. 

Conference Committee members accepted a version of a House amendment that now says the state may work with federal officials on an expansion plan, as long as Medicaid Expansion doesn't harm Wyoming businesses.  Dan Neal of the Equality State Policy Center credits the public for convincing lawmakers to do something.

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.

After defeating a series of Medicaid expansion bills earlier this week, the Wyoming Senate voted to introduce a compromise measure.

Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss is the sponsor.  The bill would enable the state to expand Medicaid for one year, during which time it could ask the federal government for the ability to devise its own expansion plan for the next three years.

Bob Beck

For over a decade the state has struggled with making sure all citizens had access to health care.  Much of this had to do with the fact that many Wyoming citizens can’t afford health insurance.  The federal affordable care act was supposed to help.

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.

Democrats push for Medicaid expansion

Dec 9, 2013

Two Democratic members of the legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee criticized Governor Mead’s decision not to expand Medicaid Services. 

At today’s/Monday’s meeting, Senator John Hastert said Mead’s dislike of the Affordable Care Act has nothing to do with expanding Medicaid and helping Wyoming’s poor get insurance. 

Representative Ken Esquibel noted that despite concerns with the A-C-A, other states are having great success with Medicaid expansion.  He urged Mead to keep an open mind and review those successes.

Last week Wyoming governor Matt Mead released his proposed budget for the next two years.  The governor joins us to discuss something he did not recommend and discusses other topics, such as whether he will run for re-election. 

Governor still mulling Medicaid expansion

Sep 4, 2013

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 Legislature

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.

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. 

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. 

Governor Matt Mead said in his State of the State address Wednesday that lawmakers need to think further about Medicaid expansion in the state and to develop a plan specifically for Wyoming. Department of Health Director, Tom Forslund, said the state would save about $50 million over six years under a full expansion.

House Majority Floor leader Kermit Brown says there are still too many unknowns in the federal rules for the Affordable Care Act that could hurt Wyoming.

As you may have heard, Governor Matt Mead is struggling with whether to recommend that the state expand Medicaid offerings.  It would provide federal insurance to more people in the state and supporters say it would save the state health care dollars in the long run.  But the Governor says it could cost the state millions of dollars in up-front costs.  Former State Representative Pete Jorgensen, a Democrat from Jackson, says the long term benefits of an expansion make it worth it.  Jorgensen was a long time member of the legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee and is pushing state hea