A meeting held in Buffalo Friday evening gave locals a chance to learn more about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” Medicaid Expansion in the state and how these may or may not affect the state and its citizens.
Hollis Hackman, Chair of both the Sheridan County and State Democratic Party, gave a brief presentation on Medicaid expansion and why the organization to which he belongs, the Wyoming Coalition for Medicaid Solutions, is backing the state adopting expanded Medicaid.
The ACA calls for nationwide expansion of Medicaid eligibility, and the coalition has found it will save the state $47.4 million over seven years, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Also, if implemented this year, Wyoming won't pay anything for the expanded coverage for three years, but all states' share of the costs would gradually reach a cap of 10% beginning in 2017. And, if the federal government fails to meet its financial obligations for the program, Wyoming can opt out of the program.
Expansion would also reduce costs for people and businesses in the state, according to the coalition's findings.
State Senator John Schiffer spoke about two bills that will be introduced in the Legislature this year, including one on the Medicaid Expansion program.
The first version of HB0084 is based on the Arkansas Model, which essentially has specific requirements tied to employment to qualify for the program.
The second version will enact the ACA, and is essentially a buy-in for the ACA as is.
Schiffer said the implementation of Medicaid Expansion would cost the state $156 million, but that was a “soft” number, due to funds that have traditionally been spent elsewhere being pulled from those programs that will now be spent on the Medicaid expansion
The short answer to the cost question was, “we just don't know yet.”
Schiffer said he did not believe Governor Mead to be in favor of Medicaid expansion, citing a belief that the federal government will not continue to fund their portion of these costs.
The other bill, SF 0040, is a re-write of Title 25 concerning mentally ill patients and how to get them required treatment. The bill is still getting last-minute tweaks as Schiffer and others discuss the issue with attorneys concerning civil rights protections.