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ERA 3 State Strategy WY Medicaid Expansion Perdue, Cartwright: Failure to expand Medicaid a lost opportunity
Saturday, 26 April 2014 21:21

Perdue, Cartwright: Failure to expand Medicaid a lost opportunity

Written by  Dan Perdue and Jan Cartwright | Trib.com
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In the debate about whether Wyoming will expand Medicaid, you need the facts.

First, the target population are adults without dependent children who earn less than 138 percent of federal poverty level, about $15,500 a year. Right now they fall outside the categories of people who can get Medicaid in Wyoming. Many are working, some of them full-time, but they are still very low-income.

Second, it’s popular to say they are not “disabled” and suggest they are able-bodied and don’t need any help. That is simplistic and not accurate. Many are working very hard but for very low wages. Many need health care, just like the rest of us, for chronic ailments or for preventive care. A person with diabetes is not “disabled” but certainly needs health care to maintain a full work schedule, and a person who is suffering with an undiagnosed illness should not be characterized as able-bodied.

Third, another popular distraction is to point to an estimate that perhaps 4,600 of this expansion population might already have insurance. But that is a guess, and it doesn’t say what kind of insurance that would be. The insured may have been paying for a “limited benefit” policy that had huge deductibles or co-pays or it didn’t cover needed services but it seemed like insurance and might have been affordable on $15,500 a year.

Here is what we do know: The number of low-income Wyoming adults that would become eligible for Medicaid under the optional expansion could be as high as 21,000 or as low as 11,000; the best estimate is 17,600.

The federal share of the optional Medicaid expansion is 100 percent for 2014, 2015, 2016, and then it decreases gradually to 90 percent. Every year Wyoming declines to participate, we lose full funding and more importantly, we leave an estimated 17,600 adults without insurance and limited or no ability to pay their medical bills.

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