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Politics & Government

Second Medicaid expansion attempt this year dies on Senate floor

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
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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.

Another attempt to discuss Medicaid expansion at the State Legislature was shot down Wednesday night on the Senate floor. The House could still take a shot at adding Medicaid expansion to the budget when they discuss it Friday.

During a Medicaid Expansion rally on the first day of the session, Senator Cale Case said advocates for expansion would try to get it in the budget if a standalone bill failed.

Wednesday night, Case attempted just that, suggesting a budget amendment that would close the Medicaid gap in Wyoming and provide health insurance to an estimated 19,000 state residents.

"This expansion is pro-hospitals, it creates jobs, it supports those very people that we care about," Case said. "The people that wait on your table, the people that clean your hotel room – these are working people. These aren't unemployed people."

During a budget session, non-budget bills have to get supermajority support – a two-thirds vote – to even be considered. Expansion advocates tried this, but their standalone non-budget bill was never brought for introduction.

Case's amendment was this session's second attempt to expand Medicaid in Wyoming. As a budget amendment, it needed just a simple majority to pass. But it didn't even get that far.

Instead, Devils Tower Senator Ogden Driskell brought a rules challenge. He argued that Case's amendment could not be included in the state's budget because it was not "an ordinary expense of the Legislature" as required by law for discussion.

"Is Medicaid expansion – which by itself uses the word 'expansion' – is that an everyday normal expense of our government? I represent to you clearly it is not," Driskell said. "If you passed it and it was in the budget in the future, we could mess with it. But at this point, Medicaid, other than normal Medicaid, is not there. This expansion is clearly unconstitutional."

The rules committee agreed with Driskell and Case withdrew his amendment.

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