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Groups lobby for Wyoming Medicaid expansion

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2013 at 9:07 pm •  Published: January 22, 2013

"My personal opinion is that given the financial mess in Washington, the feds, no matter how much they want to keep that promise are going to be unable to do so," Scott said Tuesday. "I don't think they can afford it. I don't think they can get the debt ceiling increases needed to do it."

The Senate on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a separate bill that Scott's committee had endorsed that would total repeal the cap on the number of people covered by Medicaid in assisted living facilities. Scott said the bill calls for other program reforms that could result in biennial savings of up to $113 million, split between the state and federal governments.

Dan Perdue, lobbyist for the Wyoming Hospital Association, spoke at the coalition's event on Tuesday in favor of expanding Medicaid. He said the Wyoming Department of Health has concluded the state would see $47 million in savings by expanding the program over seven years because of offsets to existing programs.

"Simply put, the expansion of Medicaid will allow the state to alter, reduce or eliminate programs that the state already pays for from the state General Fund," Perdue said. "So in essence, if we do nothing, it will cost us $79 million over seven years. However, if the state chooses to accept the expansion, the state will gain $47 million for the same seven-year period. And this represents a swing of $126 million."

In a later interview, Purdue said Wyoming hospitals provided over $200 million in uncompensated care in 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available.

"I think that's just because of the economic times, and the fact that people don't have health insurance and they still face some very serious medical challenges, but they just don't have the means to pay those bills," Purdue said. He said increasing Medicaid eligibility would reduce that by reducing emergency room visits.