Wyoming Legislature will consider one Medicaid expansion bill

2014-02-14T22:00:00Z Wyoming Legislature will consider one Medicaid expansion billBy JOAN BARRON Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
February 14, 2014 10:00 pm  • 

CHEYENNE -- The Wyoming Legislature will consider at least one Medicaid expansion bill after the Senate voted Friday to introduce a compromise offered by Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie.

Senate File 118 will give the state time to explore the best options available in providing health care to more than 17,000 uninsured, low-income residents.

The Senate voted 21-9 to consider the proposal, or one more vote than needed to be introduced in the budget session.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Labor, Health and Social Services.

The Legislature rejected four other Medicaid-related bills earlier this week, the first of the four-week budget session.

The House on Friday rejected a fifth Medicaid-related bill on a 33-27 vote -- House Bill 161, a Medicaid expansion compromise sponsored by Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette.

Friday was the last day for bill introduction in the session.

Rothfuss said his bill brings all of the options "to the table."

"I'm trying to bring forward a compromise solution that we can discuss and debate on the floor," Rothfuss told fellow senators.

He said the bill includes the best ideas from other sources, including other states.

The bill calls for traditional Medicaid expansion only for the first year.

This would allow the state quick access to resources available from the federal government.

During that year, the governor, insurance commissioner and the director of the Wyoming Department of Health would negotiate the waiver to find the best option for the state.

In addition to the first-year expiration, the waiver sunsets after three years and would require action by the Legislature to continue.

"We have to opt to stay in and hope that will allow people some confidence in the future," Rothfuss said.

The bill also has a "kick-out option" that can end the state's participation if the federal government fails to keep its promise of a 90 percent match of funds.

Additionally, it puts the expected net savings of $40 million per two-year biennium into a savings account to bridge the gap if the state moves to a different policy.

Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, chairman of the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, said SF188 is one of the bad Medicaid expansion bills offered this session.

"It removes our bargaining leverage with (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to get a decent Medicaid expansion," he said in an interview Friday.

Scott believes that once the state gets on the regular Medicaid expansion, it won't get off.

"But it is a vehicle. We could do all kinds of things to it," he said of the bill.

Scott said he will consult with the four other committee members to see if there is enthusiasm for the bill.

"Because, if we turn this loose on the floor, it will kill a bunch of other bills," he said in reference to the time it would take to debate the bill in the limited time available during the budget session.

Rothfuss doesn't understand Scott's concern.

"We're locked into expansion for the first year but then we negotiate in that year for subsequent years," he said.

Gov. Matt Mead has opposed Medicaid expansion but offered no alternates for the Legislature this year.

"I'm comfortable with the governor," Rothfuss said. "I'm less comfortable with the committee."

If the Legislature passes his optional expansion bill, Rothfuss said he expects the the governor will support it "with reluctance."

"Based on discussion with him, even if he doesn't support it, he has all along expressed openness to options and a legislative solution," Rothfuss said.

Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. Morning Joe
    Report Abuse
    Morning Joe - February 16, 2014 7:58 am
    I would think that the majority of the 17,000 are not millionaires like you are.... and therefore can't even consider self insuring themselves through investing like you are doing. Don't get me wrong, investing is a great tool but lets say you start with $20,000 and invest $20,000 each year for a decade (earning 15%), you would have just over $500,000 in your reserve fund. Something simple like a knee joint replacement can run $40,000 and up,.... emergency medical charges can reach into the hundreds of thousands, then there is the cost of follow-up care and so on. These unknown costs are too steep for the majority of us to gamble on. A nest egg could get wiped out in no time.

    Now, if folks do make the decision to avoid doctors forever.... you are right, that is their decision. But I suspect that when a medical disaster does strike them there is a good chance they will back off their original plan and go into the hospital. Not having taken care of themselves for a number of years could lead to more complications, so their costs would go up even more. If they fall into a charity care situation, we wind up paying the bill anyway.

  2. Hill Town Trader
    Report Abuse
    Hill Town Trader - February 15, 2014 2:18 pm
    Has anyone thought to ask the 17,000 or a sample thereof the folks who do not have health insurance why they so chose? They are not all poor.

    Maybe they self-insure.
    Maybe they are saving to start a business or a house.
    Maybe they just don't go to doctors, so insurance makes no sense.
    Maybe they have made personal choices that should be respected.

    I don't carry health insurance, by choice. The actuarial mathematics of insurance resemble that of casino gambling: a few "winners" but the overwhelming majority are losers. I choose not be a loser, paying for someone's healthcare. Instead for more then a decade I have socked away the "premium" in an investment account. I can cover my medical expense many times over - because I have not wasted my money on paying for other people's health care.

    Let's hear more from the people who have chosen to be part of Wyoming's 17,000 uninsured. What is behind their choices.

    Expanding Medicare may well not affect their choices, but will bring more federal government tentacles into our state.

  3. Morning Joe
    Report Abuse
    Morning Joe - February 15, 2014 5:11 am
    This is a step in the right direction to be sure.

    The previous excuse that we "can't trust the government" to fund the expansion was suspiciously shallow. And now, the mention that using floor time to debate this bill will "kill a bunch of others" is an inappropriate threat and a horrible introduction to solving this problem.
Untitled Document

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps...

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

  5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editors@trib.com, or call Editor Jason Adrians at 266-0545 or Content Director David Mayberry at 266-0633. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

  6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

  7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

  8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Featured Businesses

Latest Offers