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Wyoming governor advances Medicaid expansion plan

The Wyoming Department of Health is proposing to expand Medicaid to insure 17,000 state residents earning up to 138% of poverty, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports.

The plan, backed by Republican Gov. Matt Mead, will require a waiver from the federal government since it imposes monthly co-insurance and other co-pays on the low-income beneficiaries who opt into the plan. State officials came up with the proposal as an alternative to purchasing subsidized private insurance for low-income people without insurance, which the state estimated would cost 30% more than expanding Medicaid.

Wyoming hospitals pay about $200 million a year to care for uninsured residents, according to a Department of Health document outlining the plan. “Our hospitals are already struggling,” said Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, a Republican state legislator from Jackson Hole. “This is going to be necessary to insure individuals, but also it's going to be necessary to insure the health of our hospitals.”

The legislature must approve the plan before it can be submitted to the federal government. Petroff said passage was uncertain.

Should the plan pass, Wyoming will join the growing number of Republican-run states adopting Medicaid expansion plans that put small financial requirements on low-income beneficiaries. The Obama administration approved a similar plan in Pennsylvania last August.



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