Healthy Wyoming Holding Rally in Cheyenne for Medicaid Expansion
On Monday, the advocacy organization Healthy Wyoming held a rally to push lawmakers to expand Medicaid in Wyoming.
Last year, a bill that would expand Medicaid passed the Wyoming House 32 to 28, but failed introduction in the Senate 2 to 3, leading to advocates giving it another shot this year.
Because it is a budget session, the bill would need two-thirds approval in order to be introduced, making it more difficult to get passed this time around.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 ruled that it was up to the states to decide whether or not to expand Medicaid, groups in Wyoming have been lobbying to get a bill through the Wyoming legislature.
Jan Cartwright, deputy director for Healthy Wyoming, said expanding Medicaid in Wyoming would help assist many in the state who can't get early treatment.
"The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network had an event wherein an oncologist from Sweetwater County talked a number of her patients who because they didn't have insurance, waited way too long and let their cancer get out of control," Cartwright said. "The outcomes are always more expensive to try to help someone and also sometimes the results are more dire than we would like them to be."
Several Wyoming legislatures showed up to speak at the rally, including Senator Cale Case and Representative Pat Sweeney, while others like Representatives Mike Yin, Chad Banks, Trey Sherwood, Andi LeBeau, and Senator Stephan Pappas where also in attendance.
Last summer Healthy Wyoming held vigils in Cheyenne, Casper, Laramie, Gillette, Sheridan, Rock Springs, Lander, and Pinedale, to bring attention to those who lost their lives due to lack of proper healthcare.
Based on a poll done in October of 2021, 66% of people in Wyoming support Medicaid expansion, of which 58% of Republicans, 64% of Independents, and 98% of Democrats say they support it.
Cartwright said the opposition to the expansion comes from misconceptions about how the expansion would work.
"A lot of the concern at this point is based on stuff that isn't true," Cartwright said. "For example, the opposition will say that once you expand Medicaid you can't unexpand it, which is not true. The opposition sometimes has heard that say that other states want to get out and they can't, and that's also not true...We want to make sure that the facts are heard and the importance of the people that need this coverage."