The board that oversees the lease of Natrona County's hospital assets by the nonprofit Wyoming Medical Center Inc. wants the Legislature to approve the expansion of Medicaid, its members said Tuesday.

"The important thing is to support the Department of Health," said Carol Crump, one of the five members of the Memorial Hospital of Natrona County board of trustees.

The Department of Health has proposed, and Gov. Matt Mead has supported, the "SHARE Plan," which would expand Medicaid with about $100 million federal dollars for about 17,000 Wyoming residents without health insurance.

As Gregory Nickerson of explains, it would require any additional state funds until 2021. "It is modeled after private insurance, uses copays and premiums for able-bodied Medicaid enrollees."

However, it has met resistance from Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, who wants to amend it to include health savings accounts, Nickerson wrote.

Medicaid expansion is important to hospitals in Wyoming, which write off about $200 million a year in uncompensated care. The Wyoming Medical Center alone wrote off $52 million in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Yvonne Wigington, the hospital's chief financial officer, said Tuesday that she and a representative of the Wyoming Hospital Association recently met with local legislators in Cheyenne.

While large hospitals struggle with uncompensated care, Wigington said small community hospitals are hurting even more

Wyoming Department of Health Director Tom Forslund crafted the SHARE plan. Last fall, he said hospitals in states that have accepted Medicaid expansion have seen their uncompensated care costs decline and probably will decline even further.

Likewise, states participating in the Medicaid expansion have reported more people obtaining care because they have their bills paid, Forslund said.