To Mary Throne, a state Democratic representative from Cheyenne, expanding Medicaid to low-income Wyomingites is a numbers game.

The numbers are 16 and 31. Sixteen votes constitute a majority necessary to pass a bill in the 30-member Wyoming Senate, and 31 votes are needed in the 60-member Wyoming House, Throne told the Natrona County Democratic Women’s Forum at the Petroleum Club in Casper on Saturday.

Throne is a member of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee, which on Friday voted in favor of sponsoring two bills that  could expand Medicaid to some 17,600 low-income Wyomingites who do not have children. Gov. Matt Mead and others in the Republican-dominated state Legislature oppose expanding Medicaid, a component of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But Throne believes that with savvy politicking, she and the 11 other Democrats in the Legislature can get 16 votes in the Senate and 31 in the House. Conservatives throughout the country oppose President Obama’s health care act as a flawed way to reform the health care system, but Throne noted there have been other “red” states, such as Arizona, that have expanded Medicaid. 

Throne encouraged the 50 attendees of the county Democratic women’s forum, which included about 10 men, to reach out and make calls to legislators, specifically Sen. Drew Perkins and Reps. Steve Harshman and Tim Stubson. All three are Republicans from Casper and are members of the powerful Joint Appropriations Committee

In addition to urging local Democrats to call the legislators, she encouraged them to reach out to people of influence who support Medicaid expansion, such as business people or county commissioners, who by state law get stuck with bills for charity care in Wyoming. State legislators’ minds may change if they get calls from regular Wyomingites and influential people, too, she said.

“The commissioners tend to be practical,” Throne said. “They’ve got to make sure the roads are safe and the snow is plowed. They tend not to get too caught up in ideology.”

Throne cited a study for the Wyoming Health Department that showed the state would save $47 million by expanding Medicaid by saving on prescription drugs and mental health treatment. She said that Wyoming hospitals would save hundreds of millions in unpaid medical bills. She hopes either one of the two Medicaid bills pass, or a footnote is written into the Wyoming budget that would expand the program.

Stubson did not return an email from the Star-Tribune on Saturday. Perkins did not return a phone call.

Harshman said he understands that there will be some savings, but he doesn’t expect payments from the federal government to always continue. He noted that the federal government had suspended coal royalties to the state and has decreased its match of Medicare to the state.

“So real leery of that, and once you kind of give a benefit, it’s pretty hard to pull back, morally, ethically,” he said. “We’re going to have a debate and we’ll see where it’s at.”

Reach state reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

(7) comments

thehousemouse

is there a way we can extend coverage to these folks without taking any federal money, there by cutting any chance of federal intervention and or manatory mandates handed down by them? my other question is why wont our state reps, allow over the state line insurance. i know we are paying the most in the nation and thats simply a buzz kill for many of us on this plan all together, can you guys while your working in session right now open up over state line commerse for insurance?

TBA
TBA

Republicans offer nothing in exchange for moaning about Obamacare except more lies and BS,which many are getting sick and tired of hearing.If republicans had any snookers they would offer something to compete with Obamacare,instead of trying to extort working folks out of their SS and Medicare.This country is getting ripe for what is happening in some European countries with their violence against the commy establishment.

Jackalope

The reason that the GOP can continue to sell a lose/lose proposition on Medicaid to their base is the same reason that this ridiculous idea about selling insurance across state lines persists; their base is so hung up on Obama hatred, they have lost their capacity to process information. When our state leadership tells us there is no reason for accepting an expansion in Medicaid, they are denying that plenty of red states have found a way to benefit from the process, in spades. When someone says that they want health insurance sold in the same way that credit cards are marketed, all from the states with the least regulation, we are preparing for a situation far worse than the ACA.

Spin Detector

We would love a society that could support health care for everybody. It costs more money than goes back into the system. Therefore forever National debt. To many now live on credit and assume no problem for the Govt. to live the same way. Yes its totally unfair for the ACA to not include everyone in the country to reduce costs. Govt. has to be fair for every company who wants to participate to have a shot at providing health care insurance to make money,therefore- no large pool of participants - ergo Wyoming is high cost (small population)....

dd ric

housemouse,i agee with ya about over-the-line ins. Who came up with that? One thing that bears repeating thru all these discussions,all these ins. companies are FOR PROFIT. That should be something truely loved by the GOP. ddric

thehousemouse

I guess i get alittle upset at the all the tax rates on everything rising and none of that money seems to be doing anything except being put away for a rainy day( in the billions i might add) when seems to me that it could be used to bridge the gap in many of our programs such as medicaid. expanding dangerious highways, bunky said oh put all the money in new taxes in a the rainy day fund. does he relize its raining right now all over wyoming. people are going without homes, food, and medical needs? another one who lives in a dream worldof all for the state nothing for the citizens. its eletion time people. perhaps we need a shake up all across the board from state clear down to local leaders. when we give 1500 to joshes, and 3.5 million for a convention center? something is not right.

Salty Dawg
Salty Dawg

Want to know why insurance is so high,especially in a state like Wyoming,follow the money trail to shareholders in health insurance corporations.It's all about greed and profits,and little to nothing about coverage anymore for the very people who need it.Wall street and corporate greed is killing this nation.

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