Wyoming Senate Rejects Medicaid Expansion
The Wyoming State Senate on Friday afternoon voted to reject an expansion of the Medicaid program in the state.
The vote was 20-10, with six Republicans joining the Senate's four Democrats in voting for expansion. All 20 votes against the budget amendment for expansion were cast by Republicans.
Sen. Bernadine Craft (D-Rock Springs) sponsored the budget amendment, arguing the expansion would bring $268 million to the state and offer health insurance coverage to roughly 20,000 state residents who don't currently have it. Craft also countered arguments by expansion opponents that the federal government will eventually break it's promise to fund 90 percent of the cost of expansion by attaching a two-year "sunset."
She also said she had been assured by federal officials that the state could withdraw from the program at any time.
But Sen. Charles Scott (R-Casper) argued that regardless of what federal officials may say, it would prove very difficult for Wyoming to back out of the program once the state accepted expansion. Scott also disputed claims that covering the cost of treating uninsured patients across the state is proving to be a hardship for many hospitals. He said most hospitals around Wyoming had rebuffed attempts to verify those claims, leading him to think that in most cases the claims of financial hardship were bogus.
Sen. Larry Hicks [R-Baggs] warned that a vote for expansion would taint current Senate members as "the generation that wasn't able to live within its means."
The Senate vote came only a day after Governor Matt Mead had once again asked state lawmakers to support Medicaid expansion.
The governor had included the expansion in his proposed budget for the 2017-2018 biennium, but that proposal was removed by the Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee [JAC] in it's budget recommendations.