|Guest Editorial by Phyllis Roseberry
Our legislative committees have been discussing big cuts to our states school and other state services. Wyoming is in dire budget straits. COVID is also spiking affecting our citizens health and ability to make a living. We cannot cut our way out of this without jeopardizing our children and State’s future. We need to look at all sources of income and help to support our state during this difficult time.
For the sake of our economy and citizens health, Wyoming should join the rest of the country in expanding MEDICAID. In 2019, nearly 54,000 Wyomingites were enrolled in MEDICAID and CHIP – a far cry from the 73,000 who would have been eligible under MEDICAID expansion. At least 6000 Wyomingites were left without access to any health insurance. These numbers are growing significantly due to the current COVID and unemployment crisis.
By refusing to expand MEDICAID, Wyoming is expected to lose $1.3 billion over the next decade. State matching funds are only10% of the total costs. People in need with no health insurance have only one option. Go to the emergency room. This is the highest cost option in our medical system. It drives up the cost of premiums for those who have health insurance. The hospital also doesn’t have any option. This is one of the reasons for the high premiums and deductibles in Wyoming. The Wyoming Hospital Association estimates its members rack up $120 million every year in uncompensated care. These costs are partially recouped by higher costs to those with health insurance.
A new coalition called Healthy Wyoming is in favor of MEDICAID expansion They include the Wyoming Medical Society, the state hospital association, AARP Wyoming, the Wyoming Primary Care Association, Equality State Policy Center, and state chapters of the American Heart and Cancer Associations. The majority of Wyoming people have said they are in favor of MEDICAID expansion. The appropriations committee is meeting on October 26/27. Other committees are meeting soon.You can watch these meetings on zoom and submit public comment. Go to WyoLeg.gov. Please do so. Our children’s and states future depends on it.