CHEYENNE – It has been the talk of the 63rd Legislative session and on Friday, the Wyoming Senate rejected a bill that would have supported an expansion of the states medicaid program.
By a vote of 19-11, the Senate rejected the bill which would have supported an expansion of the Medicaid program to thousands of low-income adults. The bill has been debated for several weeks as business leaders, health care provides and members of the Wind River Reservation all testified urging the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee to approve some kind of Medicaid expansion.
Opponents of the expansion voiced concerns about problems implementing the plan. Opponents also argued that increasing health care spending would only add to the federal debt.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead who opposed expansion during his first term urged the legislature to pass some form of expansion. On Friday, he released a statement on the vote.
“I believe that Wyoming’s working poor need health care coverage. Over the last year, in response to the Legislature’s direction, the Department of Health – working with HHS and CMS – crafted a Wyoming plan to provide that coverage on Wyoming terms, and I believe the plan (the SHARE Plan) has merit,” Mead said. “Many members in the House and Senate have also worked to create a Wyoming plan to leverage approximately $120 million in federal funds that would be spent in our state. I thank them for their commitment to our working poor and our rural hospitals.”
Mead was also interested in the proposal by the House of Representatives which was also pulled from committee on Friday.
“I was also interested in the proposal developed by House members Eric Barlow and Sue Wilson. I was hopeful that the full House of Representatives would at least have the opportunity to debate the issue. We must continue to tackle the tough issues around health care – access, costs and insurance,” Mead continued. “We must recognize what health care means to individuals and to our economy.”
While Mead said he respected different views, he added many are still left without coverage.
“While I respect different views, the fact is today we are left with working poor without coverage. We are left with Wyoming taxpayer dollars funding health care of other states,” Mead explained. “We are left without a solution for $200 million of uncompensated care that our hospitals must absorb and pass on to the rest of our citizens and we are rejecting $120 million dollars meant for Wyoming. Wyoming has fought against the ACA and we lost. The ACA remains the law. I look forward to the Legislature finding a meaningful way to operate within the ACA to address Wyoming’s health care needs.”