Issues | Health Care
There has been much discussion about optional Medicaid expansion in the Legislature and by the public. To date, Wyoming has chosen not to participate. There are troublesome questions.
Will the federal government keep their commitment on the federal match? Will the state eventually be left with a program too expensive to run? Is the program structured to create a dependent constituency?
These are questions without clear answers. We certainly don’t want to incur additional expenses associated with expansion that other states have experienced. According this article in the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico’s budget crunch has left the state facing a $417 million Medicaid shortfall over the next 16 months, a daunting figure that could mean reduced reimbursement rates for providers and hospitals and, down the road, new mandatory payments for some patients.
Wyoming hospitals and health care providers continue to bear the burden of un-reimbursed medical care amounting to millions of dollars of lost revenue. Some of these providers are struggling financially and if they do not prosper, Wyoming communities will be left without critical health care services. Thousands of Wyoming citizens eligible for optional Medicaid are not insured.
The National Academy for State Health Policy publishes a map that tracks state Medicaid expansion decisions and approaches states are taking for expanding eligibility to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Six states have expanded Medicaid using an alternative to traditional expansion. Some of the alternative plans seem to address the concerns that the legislature has cited as roadblocks to expansion.
I support researching successful expansions in other states and developing a nontraditional program that works for Wyoming citizens and the state.