Medicaid Expansion Waiver For Tribes Moves Forward

Feb 5, 2015

While a Medicaid Expansion bill has its skeptics in the State Senate this week, a waiver to expand it for Native Americans is getting warmer reception.

The Joint Appropriations Committee has included a waiver in the state supplemental budget that would provide health care to some 3,500 low-income Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Representative Lloyd Larsen from Lander says just last year about 40,000 health care visits went uncompensated. Larsen says Wyoming has a legal obligation to pay up.

“By treaty, the U.S. government is supposed to provide health care services to tribal nations,” Larsen says. “And we’ve cut that funding federally to where we, instead of being at 100 percent, we’re funding Indian Health Services to only about 45 percent.”

The $17 million waiver for Medicaid wouldn’t cost the state anything since it’s an option through the Affordable Care Act for states with reservations.

The budget will be debated by the full legislature next week.