Medicaid Expansion negatory

Medical Expansion ‘clears’ committee

Procedural maneuver may lead to Senate floor debate

Elsewhere: Vote ID bill Thursday; LGBTQ rights bills on Monday docket

A procedural maneuver got a proposal to expand Medicaid in Wyoming out of the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee but enabled senators voting in favor of it to avoid going on record in favor of the idea. Committee members appeared to take little note of comment from organizations supporting the expansion. Not one public comment against the measure was offered during the meeting.

Sen. John Hastert

Though hampered by cold-sapped voice, Sen. John Hastert, D-SD13. Green River, laid out the advantages of the measure to a committee he considered skeptical. “Great things can happen if everybody can keep an open mind,” he said. Bill opponents argued that the federal government will not keep its promise of paying not less than 90% of the costs of the expansion. The committee voted down a “do pass” motion 4-1. Acknowledging the magnitude of the issue – there are millions of dollars at stake – Chairman Charles Scott, R-SD30, Casper, said he would support a “do-not pass” motion. Sen. Jim Anderson, R-SD28, Casper, made that motion and it was approved. The maneuver, a positive vote on a motion, means the bill will not be “laid back” and makes possible a potential Senate floor debate of SF 122 Expansion of Medicaid – though it is not assured. Two senators who support the Medicaid Expansion said Senate President Tony Ross promised a floor debate of the measure. The fiscal case for the bill is very strong: mandatory elements of the Affordable Care Act will require the state of Wyoming to spend a net total of more than $79 million between 2014-2020 to cover some 6,900 newly eligible children and a second group of people who are eligible under current rules but have never signed up. But the optional expansion to cover 17,600 childless adults who currently do not qualify will save the state millions of dollars. Services now covered directly from the state General Fund for programs such as colorectal screening and behavioral services will be covered by Medicaid. Dan Perdue, executive director of the Wyoming Hospital Association, reminded the committee that a state study found that those offsets result in a “swing” of more than $125 million, producing a net savings to the state of more than $47 million from 2014 to 2020. Unfortunately, years of ideological opposition to the Affordable Care Act means some legislators have painted themselves into a corner from which they seem unable to escape. They need constituents to express support for this program. The expansion of Medicaid will strengthen Wyoming’s hospitals and other aspects of the medical system, reduce cost-shifting that drives up insurance costs, and enable many uninsured state residents to get the care they need, including preventive care that will reduce costs across the system.

Here’s the committee vote:

Roll Call

Ayes: Senator(s) Anderson, J.L. (S28), Nutting, Peterson and Scott B Nays: Senator(s) Craft.

Voter ID bill in Senate Corporations Committee

The Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee will hear SF134 Voter identification Thursday morning (Jan. 24). The bill demands that voters provide a photo ID. The measure requires that voters show a photo ID issued either by the state or the United States. That means IDs issued by the tribes of the Wind River Reservation would not be acceptable. Similar legislation was proposed in 2009 and failed in committee. The ESPC opposes the bill as an unnecessary obstacle to citizens exercising their right to vote. We know of no reports of voter fraud in Wyoming.

Marriage Equality and Domestic Partnerships

It looks like these efforts to extend basic civil rights to Wyoming’s LGBTQ residents will be heard by the House Corporations Committee on Monday. The bills are HB 169 Marriage Equality and HB168 Domestic Partnerships. Allies at Wyoming Equality are excited.   <

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