RIVERTON, Wyoming. – Wyoming health professionals urge state lawmakers to act before it’s too late to take advantage of a pandemic-related financial incentive to expand Medicaid coverage.
The US bailout would bring an additional $ 54 million into state coffers, to finance expansion but also to invest in priorities such as education and infrastructure.
Jan Cartwright, executive director of the Wyoming Primary Care Association, said that in addition to giving 24,000 people access to health insurance, the move would bring some relief to the state budget.
“When you have more people in the health insurance pool, everyone is healthier,” Cartwright said. “I think it’s a Wyoming value that we’re seeing more people having access to health care, which really increases productivity, it increases the ability of families to thrive.”
A recent bill sponsored by the Joint Revenue Committee would give Governor Mark Gordon permission to discuss expansion options with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Opponents have long argued that Wyoming does not need federal help to care for its residents, and have warned the state would face additional costs if the Affordable Care Act were ever dismantled.
Cartwright noted that about 70% of people who would qualify for expanded coverage already have at least one job, but work in industries that do not provide health benefits. She highlighted data showing that the expansion would also improve health outcomes for mothers and infants.
“About half of new hires, if we were to expand Medicaid, are working women under 35,” Cartwright said. “And right now, our state has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country for women of childbearing age.”
Supporters also say hospitals, often the largest employers in rural areas, would benefit from the expansion because they wouldn’t be stuck with millions of dollars in unmatched care costs when patients without coverage can’t pay. their bills.
Cartwright added that insured people are also more likely to seek preventive care, which would mean less expensive trips to emergency rooms.
“We know that emergencies are the most expensive way to get health care, and a lot of people who don’t have health insurance end up in the emergency room,” Cartwright observed. “The expansion of Medicaid would really support the entire health care system.”
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