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Medicaid Expansion Fails Again

Jimmy Emerson, DVM via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Once again, the Wyoming legislature has rejected Medicaid expansion. Despite testimony providing overwhelming support for the measure and some federal aid to encourage more states to adopt the program, the Senate Labor and Health Committee voted three to two against the bill.

The Wyoming Department of Health estimated that 25,000 state residents would have qualified for health insurance under the program. One of those was Cheyenne resident Marcie Kindred who told the committee that this is the only way many state residents can get health care. She said that's why so many people of different backgrounds support the bill.

"There are providers, professionals and citizens saying this is what we need. If you don't pass this bill, you owe the people of Wyoming answers," said Kindred. "This is your job, what are you going to do to help your people? You haven't offered other solutions. This is it. This is what we got."

The federal government offered states which have not expanded Medicaid a larger federal match. Gillette Sen. Troy McKeown voted against the bill. He said he fears that the government won't continue that support.

"This program, I don't believe, is even close to sustainable. And at the end of two years the federal government will do what it does best," said McKeown. "It will yank the carpet out from under us and leave us with a $200 million program at a time when we can't take care of our elderly as it is."

While some on the committee say the state should find a solution to the health care problem, Laramie Sen. Chris Rothfuss answered that previous lawmakers studied the issue and found it was too expensive.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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