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Wyoming legislative bill pursues long-sought-after Medicaid expansion

Protesters chant during a rally in support of Medicaid expansion in Wyoming on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022 at the Wyoming State Capitol. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Once again, a bill that would expand Medicaid eligibility in Wyoming is heading to the State Capitol.

If lawmakers pass House Bill 80, or the Medical Treatment Opportunity Act, during the 2023 Legislative General Session — which begins Jan. 10 — the Department of Health estimates that 19,000 additional residents will be eligible for the healthcare program.

The act is being sponsored by the Joint Revenue Interim Committee and is similar to that of previously failed expansion bills.

Medicaid Expansion in the Nation

Medicaid is a joint state and federal program that provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Eligibility is based on factors including income, household, size, and family status, and each state has its own requirements.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 extended the coverage, allowing people to qualify solely based on their income, which had to be up to 133% of the federal poverty level.

Since then, three-quarters of the states have adopted the expansion, but several, including Wyoming and Texas, are still holding out.

Wyoming Weighs in

A 2021 poll conducted by New Bridge Strategy found that 66% of Wyoming-registered voters across various regions and political parties support expanding Medicaid.

Local health advocates and professionals have pleaded with lawmakers to approve expansion bills and help the potential 19,000 residents.

However, state officials have been hesitant, citing budget concerns.

Under the Affordable Care Act, 90% of the cost of Medicaid expansion would be paid by the federal government and 10% by the state.

For Wyoming, that would mean paying $11 million a year.

If passed, the health department recommends setting aside $22 million for the expansion’s first two years.

With $177 million in federal contribution, Wyoming would have a surplus of $32 million after the first year of expansion, enough to cover the state’s share of costs in the second year. 

The bill in full can be viewed below: