Following a debate that revisited old information and shed light on new arguments, Medicaid expansion passed out of the House Revenue Committee of the 67th Wyoming Legislature on Thursday, January 19.
“This is an important step in the process, but we are in this fight for the long haul,” said Ana Marchese, director of Healthy Wyoming,” Healthy Wyoming does not support the recent amendment that would eliminate gender-affirming care. We will not give up on our job of convincing legislators that everyone deserves access to affordable healthcare.”
Marchese encouraged Medicaid expansion supporters to reach out to their representatives in the House Chamber. The bill now heads to the House floor for consideration.
“We’re going to save some lives,” said Committee Chair, Rep. Steve Harshman (R – Natrona County). Harshman closed debate on HB 80 -Medical treatment opportunity act – Medicaid reform with an emphatic plea on behalf of the most vulnerable in Wyoming. He added that Medicaid expansion will benefit young working women and seniors between the ages of 58-65 the most.
Healthy Wyoming, a statewide coalition of over 25 organizations and agencies that are advocating for Medicaid expansion, showed up in force to support the bill, which it is estimated would expand access to medical coverage for 19,000 Wyoming residents. The group offered testimony from several key speakers, including a business owner, medical professionals, and Josh Hannes of the Wyoming Hospital Association.
Hannes commented on Wyoming’s history of pursuing its own solution to the vast number of low-income, uninsured residents. To pursue a solution without the support of Medicaid expansion, “you would have something in the realm of $100 million a year in additional costs that the state would have to bear.” He continued, “I think that Medicaid expansion is a better way to finance that coverage and to get people access to care.”
Healthy Wyoming is a broad coalition of Wyoming groups working together toward the goal of expanding Medicaid. They include the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Better Wyoming, Equality State Policy Center, National Alliance on Mental Illness – Wyoming, Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers, Wyoming Community Foundation, Wyoming Hospital Association, Wyoming Medical Society, Wyoming Primary Care Association, Wyoming Women’s Foundation, and many others. For more information, visit healthywyoming.org.