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Medicaid expansion bill dies, Healthy Wyoming vows to continue the fight

House Bill 80 was not on the floor for debate before the Feb. 6 deadline, and has no other opportunities in the 2023 general session.

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Despite having more support than ever across the state, the Medicaid expansion bill, House Bill 80, died without being heard by Wyoming legislators.

“We are very disappointed that one legislator can prohibit our elected representatives from considering Medicaid expansion after constituents have shown such strong support,” said Ana Marchese, director of Healthy Wyoming. “The people of Wyoming deserve better. We will keep fighting to be heard.”

The House Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, singlehandedly killed the sole Medicaid expansion bill as Wyoming rural hospitals are being pushed to the brink of closure by the growing costs of caring for the uninsured.

His refusal to allow House Bill 80 on the floor for debate before the Feb. 6 deadline means there are no other opportunities in the 2023 general session to consider the bill.

Unlike HB 80, House Bill 4 postpartum benefit extension made it to the House Floor and passed the Committee of the Whole. The bill would ensure uninsured new mothers in Wyoming have access for a full year to the medical and mental healthcare they need to stay healthy and keep their babies healthy.

“We are optimistic that Medicaid for Moms has a good chance to pass this session,” Marchese said. She noted that several Representatives who voted against HB 4 still noted the benefits of the 90–10 match of Medicaid expansion.

“Our coalition will not give up the fight to pass Medicaid expansion, which will help keep our rural hospitals solvent and provide healthcare to an estimated 19,000 low-income Wyomingites,” Marchese said.

Meanwhile, Wyoming voters, regardless of party or region, want Medicaid expansion. According to Republican polling firm New Bridge Strategy’s poll done in 2021, a majority of voters, 65%, want their state legislators to support Medicaid expansion.

The poll demonstrates that, regardless of political party or region of the state, Wyoming residents want their family, friends and neighbors to have healthcare. That support spanned across party lines, with 58% of Republicans, 64% of Independents and 98% of Democrats supporting Medicaid expansion, according to the poll.

Wyoming is now the only state in the West that has not expanded Medicaid after South Dakota voters bypassed state lawmakers with a ballot measure in November 2022.