CHEYENNE – The state House of Representatives killed a bill Monday to expand Medicaid coverage, but the Senate wants to spend more than a quarter of a million dollars to continue studying the issue.

During a mad dash to work dozens of bills before Monday’s first reading deadline, the House voted down House Bill 244, sponsored by Rep. Andy Schwartz, D-Jackson, on a 36-23 vote.

The bill would have expanded Medicaid coverage as part of the federal Affordable Care Act, along with putting work requirements on those who would be eligible for the expanded coverage.

HB 244 also would have given the governor veto power over the state’s expansion, and create an option for Wyoming to automatically drop out of the program if the federal government stopped paying 90 percent of the cost of expansion.

Schwartz had tried to sell the bill as a way for the Legislature to get ahead of any 2020 ballot initiative to expand Medicaid coverage. Voters in several states expanded Medicaid coverage via the ballot in 2018, and Schwartz said HB 244 was the best way to keep Wyoming from being subjected to an expansion that didn’t offer any protections to the state.

While the House decided Medicaid expansion was a no go, the Senate approved a bill to once again study expansion. Senate File 146, sponsored by Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, passed Monday out of the Senate on a 26-6 vote. The bill would spend $260,000 for Wyoming to study the benefits, costs and drawbacks of expansion.

The state studied the issue in 2011, and SF 146 envisions using those findings as a starting point for more investigation.

While the Legislature is still hesitant to expand coverage, the Senate is moving full steam ahead with putting work requirements of a portion of Medicaid and food assistance recipients.

Senate File 144, sponsored by Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, would require able-bodied recipients of Medicaid between the ages of 19 and 64 to put in 20 hours a week through a combination of work, schooling, workforce training or volunteering with a local nonprofit. The new requirements wouldn’t apply to someone who’s pregnant, a parent or guardian of a child age 6 or younger, or the primary caregiver of someone who has a serious medical condition or disability.

SF 144 passed out of the Senate with a 23-5 vote on its final reading and now heads to the House.

(1) comment

Check of Reality

I find it amazing no mention was made that WY revenues are down $100 million and the Medicaid expansion would cost the state $80 million additionally. Poor reporting or biased reporting by only stating "victims" instead of tax payer victims?

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