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Federal health officials are becoming more open to a Wyoming-tailored plan to expand Medicaid in the state, Gov. Matt Mead announced in a press conference Thursday.

Wyoming health officials are considering actions of other Western states to tailor an expansion proposal to meet the Cowboy State's needs. Federal officials would also have to agree to the plan.

“Some of the areas we’re looking at is people who are on the program, that they have some of their own as it’s said, 'skin in the game,'” Mead said. “In other words, they would pay a portion of the premium; they would pay a portion of the deductible. There would be a workforce development plan involved in it. And those are the types of things I think (federal officials are) more open to than they were a year ago, and certainly more than two years ago.”

Mead said the Wyoming Department of Health will release a report in the coming weeks detailing Medicaid expansion discussions between the department and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Wyoming legislators voted earlier this year to block federal funds for Medicaid expansion, but directed the Governor's office and the Health Department to continue expansion discussions with Medicaid officials.

Mead said the premium, deductible, and workforce training components are unique to the state’s approach when compared to other states that are already in the program.

The Health Department tailored its proposal to meet the needs of the state, said Tom Forslund, director of the Wyoming Department of Health.

“We have looked at what other states have been able to do in terms of making their programs fit for their respective states,” Forslund said. “We have somewhat unique circumstances because of our size and some of the things other states have done just don’t make a lot of sense.”

He said the discussion with Medicaid officials has been positive and that the final decision to move forward rests with the Legislature.

“We have been in several discussions with Medicaid and they have been very positive conversations," said Forslund. "We will be giving our recommendation to the Legislature and it will be up to them as to what they want to do.”

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Any expansion plan requires legislative approval.

Mead said the GOP leadership in the Wyoming Legislature is waiting for the proposal before making a decision.

“My sense is Democratic leadership is in favor of it," Mead said. "Republican leadership, they want to see what is proposed.”

The Health Department’s report will be delivered to the Legislature in coming weeks and presented to the Joint Interim Labor, Health and Social Services Committee Dec. 15-16 in Cheyenne.

Star-Tribune reporter Laura Hancock contributed to this story.

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Reach general assignment reporter Trevor Graff at 307-266-0639 or Trevor.Graff@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @TrevGraff.

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