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Utah News

WY Medicaid Expansion Could Advance in Joint Revenue Committee

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Wyoming lawmakers are giving Medicaid expansion a second look at a Joint Revenue Committee meeting after proposals failed to clear the Senate in this year's legislative session. 

 "There are people who are not able to access health care other than through the emergency room, where it's the most high cost and least effective," Jan Cartwright said. "And these would be funds that would help to stabilize our health care system for everyone in Wyoming."

Cartwright is with the Wyoming Primary Care Association said the pandemic, and downturns in the fossil-fuel sector exposed gaps in the state's healthcare system when Wyoming workers lost job-related health insurance. She said expanding Medicaid would help fill those gaps.

It's estimated that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would provide health coverage to some 24-thousand Wyoming residents, mostly single mothers who earn too much to qualify for standard Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.

Cartwright said it's been nine years since the U-S Supreme Court made expansion optional for states, and taxpayers continue to be on the hook when uninsured patients can't pay medical bills. The Wyoming Hospital Association estimates expansion would cut uncompensated care costs by more than 100-million dollars a year.
 

"Every bill that has been considered by the Legislature has language that would allow the state to step back if the federal match changed," she said. "So, we're not stuck. It would be important to do this for the expansion population now, and we'll deal with the future in the future."

If the Joint Revenue Committee votes in favor of expanding Medicaid during the interim session, a committee-backed bill would give Governor Mark Gordon permission to discuss options for expansion with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.