In keeping with our mission to advocate for quality, affordable health care for all our citizens, Wyoming Rising has joined the Healthy Wyoming Coalition. This is a statewide consortium consisting of nonprofit medical and hospital associations, interfaith church alliances, and public advocacy organizations.
Our collective goal is to make Medicaid coverage available to working class people in Wyoming who don’t currently qualify for Medicaid but whose employment does not provide private health insurance. The cost to insure the roughly 20,000 Wyoming residents that fall in this coverage gap is around $200 million per year, but 90% of that would come from the federal government. Not only would this benefit the newly insured, but it would improve the financial strength of our health care providers by reducing the burden of uncovered emergency medical services. We want everyone to get the right care at the right time.
The Wyoming Legislature has failed repeatedly to pass legislation enabling the expansion of Medicaid, often using the excuse that the state can’t afford it. But 38 states, most of which are in worse financial condition than Wyoming, have enacted some form of Medicaid expansion. None have opted out even though they could do so without penalty. Like Montana, they have discovered that the economic benefits, even setting aside the humanitarian gains, far outweigh the costs.
Five heavily Republican states with equally unsympathetic legislatures, recently passed Medicaid expansion through a ballot initiative. This shows nonpartisan, grassroots support even in states whose leaders do not agree. Indeed, polls show most Wyomingites favor expanding Medicaid to insure those of us who fall in the coverage gap. The Wyoming constitution does not allow ballot initiatives that encumber state funds, so our only recourse is to mount an overwhelming grassroots campaign that will sway our legislators.
What can you do to help make Medicaid expansion a reality in Wyoming? Here are a few ideas:
- Learn more about the issue, starting with this convenient fact sheet: Healthy WYO FAQ.
- Follow Healthy Wyoming on Facebook: Facebook.com/HealthyWyo
- Continue by attending a statewide webinar in early October (we will pass along details as soon as this is announced by the Healthy Wyoming Coalition).
- Educate your family, friends and neighbors and enlist their participation.
- Solicit endorsements from civic and religious leaders (and pass along to Wyoming Rising to bolster the statewide effort).
- Seek stories and testimonials from people whose lives could be rescued by this program. Share these stories with your senators, state representatives, and local newspapers.