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Wyoming Department of Health unveils modified plan for Medicaid expansion in state


CHEYENNE, Wyoming — A modified plan for Medicaid expansion could provide health coverage for nearly 18,000 uninsured people in Wyoming and bring in more than $100 million in federal funding to the state annually, according to a report by the Wyoming Department of Health.

The plan modifies traditional Medicaid coverage by borrowing cost-sharing measures from common private insurance plans, the Casper Star-Tribune reported ( ) Wednesday.

"It would promote participants to take an active role in their own health," said Tom Forslund, director of the Wyoming Department of Health. "Participants will have a financial responsibility to be part of this plan."

Participants in the state's Medicaid plan would make co-payments. Participants with larger incomes would pay monthly premiums between $25 and $50.

The proposal also provides employment assistance to those to be covered, including access to job search services and vocational rehabilitation programs.

The proposal attempts to address the concerns of Wyoming Republicans skeptical that the federal government will guarantee funding to expand Medicaid in the states under health care reform.

Wyoming lawmakers last winter defeated an attempt to pass Medicaid expansion.

Gov. Matt Mead voiced his support for the new plan.

"If the Legislature chooses not to authorize Medicaid expansion, I would ask and expect them to have an alternative for the 17,000 people who do not have coverage in Wyoming," Mead said in a prepared statement.

In the past, federal Medicaid officials have rejected work requirements for Medicaid programs. Wyoming's proposed employment services are not a requirement but a benefit, officials said.

"Just like any other benefit, it comes with the enrollment onto the program," Forslund said. "They will be able to access various levels of assistance. If they don't need these services, they won't be required to make use of them."

Legislators said the proposal is a start in the consideration of Medicaid expansion this year.

"Certainly this doesn't mean anything is going to pass," said Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie. "I think we have a lot of work to do to demonstrate the benefits to the state of Wyoming."

Sen. Charlie Scott, R-Casper, a co-chairman of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, said the committee will consider a bill of its own that would use federal Medicaid expansion money to create health savings accounts as an alternative to the proposal.

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune,

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