CHEYENNE — It appears the lobbying efforts from a coalition of 23 groups that support the optional Medicaid expansion in Wyoming have failed.
Yesterday, the Wyoming Coalition for Medicaid Expansion held a press conference in the capitol building to tout that the expansion would allow 17,600 low-income people to get Medicaid insurance while saving the state money because of federal funds pledged to support those states that opt to expand.
Today, the Senate Health and Labor Committee voted 4-1 on a do-not-pass recommendation for the optional Medicaid expansion. While this action doesn't guarantee it won't make the floor for general debate, it does make it much more unlikely, according to legislators.
The federal government committed to fund the optional expansion for three years before scaling back support to 90 percent over several years. But many Wyoming legislators don't think the federal government can afford to back an expansion that could cost $1.7 billion by 2022
, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Consequently, many legislators feel that the costs would end up falling on the states that opt in. Gov. Matt Mead has voiced similar sentiments and said he would vote down the expansion if asked to vote on it.
Dan Perdue, director of the Wyoming Hospital Association, called the decision to accept Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act "one of the most important decisions Wyoming lawmakers will face" in the current legislative session. He is also part of WYCOME, the Wyoming Coalition for Medicaid Expansion that appealed to the public and legislators yesterday to press forward with the expansion.
"This is really about people — taking care of your own folks," said Dr. Brent Sherard, medical director of clinical integration for the Wyoming Integrated Care Network
, at WYCOME's conference. He said that people without insurance "deny their own care" because they can't afford health-care bills — a situation that sometimes leads to unnecessary deaths.
Sen. John Hastert (D-Sweetwater), the lone vote for passage, has voiced his disappointment with the downfall while he said he understands it would have been a risky move.
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