A bill that would expand the Medicaid program in Wyoming has been filed for the upcoming session of the Wyoming Legislature.

You can read House Bill 20--the Medical Treatment Opportunity Act--here. The bill is sponsored by the legislature's Joint Revenue Interim Committee.

Generally speaking, bills sponsored by a committee have a better chance of winning final approval, but Medicaid expansion legislation in the Wyoming Legislature is highly controversial and has been for years.

Lawmakers are slated to convene a 30-day budget session on Feb. 14 in Cheyenne.

Numerous Medicaid expansion bills have been filed in the legislature repeatedly in recent years without ever winning final approval.

According to past testimony on the issue, expanding Medicaid would prove health insurance coverage for roughly 25,000 to 30,000 Wyoming residents, although opponents have argued the actual number could be much higher, increasing the cost to the state. Under House Bill 20, Medicaid expansion would only be implemented as long as the federal government picks up at least 90 percent of the tab.

Supporters of expansion, including the Wyoming Hospital Association, have argued that expansion would help medical facilities in the state defray uncompensated care costs that they have claimed in past years to run as high as $100 million per year. Those costs are incurred when hospitals treat people without health insurance, who are often unable to pay the costs associated with the care.

Supporters of expansion have also argued that the state has a moral responsibility to provide health insurance to state residents. But opponents have argued the expansion goes well beyond the original intention of the Medicaid program and worry that it could end up costing the state enormous amounts of money because many more people sign up for expansion than predicted and/or the federal government reneges on promises to pick up most to the cost of expansion.

Some opponents also question the numbers on uncompensated care cited by supporters of expansion.

 

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