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State senator says Medicaid expansion could go in the budget bill

State Senator Cale Case of Lander speaks in front of the State Capitol, behind two banners. One banner reads "Wyoming id dying for Med Expansion." The other features a picture of an umbrella and reads "Are you covered? Fix our broken Healthcare!"
Jeff Victor
/
Wyoming Public Radio
State Senator Cale Case of Lander speaks in front of the State Capitol. Case said Medicaid expansion could be added to the budget bill itself if a standalone bill fails introduction.

Supporters of Medicaid expansion rallied outside the State Capitol Monday, the first day of the Wyoming Legislature's 2022 budget session. The crowd of roughly 200 heard from legislators who are pushing for expansion and from individuals who would personally benefit.

Medicaid expansion has been hotly debated in Wyoming for years. The movement still faces an uphill battle given Wyoming's conservative lean, but a coalition of nonprofits and other organizations called Healthy Wyoming is gaining steam. They've collected more than 200 signatures from business owners in a letter to legislators, and the rally was attended by both Democrats and Republicans.

One of the speakers was Angela Sylvester, a single mother of two who said one of her children has disabilities with lots of doctor and therapy appointments.

"Caregivers suffer with a lot of stress and a lot of worry," she said. "And that actually makes us more prone to heart disease and other illnesses because of all that stress."

Sylvester went to the emergency room last year. Since she made too much for Medicaid but too little for insurance, she now has an expensive hospital bill. Sylvester said it takes a village to raise a child, and covering more single parents like her with Medicaid is one way to do that.

This year is a budget session, so a non-budget bill would have to have supermajority support to even be considered. It's a high bar for any bill, and previous Medicaid expansion bills have failed to clear it.

But Senator Cale Case, a Republican from Lander, said there might be another way – a provision expanding Medicaid could be added to the budget. Case said he would prefer to pass the standalone bill.

"This is the best way to do it," he said. "If not, we'll get it in the budget, where it only takes half."

The standalone bill has not yet appeared on the House's schedule.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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