MM Curator summary
[MM Curator Summary]: The move to approve expansion in the legislature has now failed in both the House and the Senate.
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CHEYENNE — The full Wyoming Senate wasn’t able to vote on a Medicaid expansion amendment to the budget bill Wednesday night after the Rules Committee declared it unconstitutional.
Medicaid expansion has been a long-term effort by advocates such as Better Wyoming and the Healthy Wyoming Coalition, which made arguments in support of passing legislation so 24,000 residents could gain access to medical insurance. The groups said it also would encourage economic growth and help businesses retain employees.
Although there has been considerable support shown across the state, the Senate entertaining the amendment was one of the last opportunities for expansion promoters this year.
House Bill 20, the “Medical treatment opportunity act,” was never introduced in the House of Representatives because House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, said there weren’t enough votes for it to meet the two-thirds threshold required for non-budget bills during a budget session.
But Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, followed through on his intention to bring it to the Senate budget discussions. He is co-chair of the Joint Revenue Interim Committee, which sponsored HB 20.
“This expansion is pro-hospitals,” Case told fellow legislators as he introduced the amendment. “It creates jobs. It supports those very people that we care about, the people that wait on your table or clean your hotel room. These are working people. These aren’t unemployed people.”
As soon as the amendment was introduced, however, Majority Floor Leader Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, asked Case to withdraw it or adhere to a Senate Rules Committee review.
The proposal was sent to the Rules Committee, where it was deemed unconstitutional by a 3-2 vote, since it wasn’t an ordinary expenditure of the Legislature.
“I see nothing in here that has anything to do with appropriations,” Driskill said. “And it is a bill.”
This was one of the last budget amendments in a long line of them considered throughout the day Wednesday, spanning from education cuts to appropriations for suicide prevention.
Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, was successful in receiving votes for the first addition to the budget, which was $25,000 for the purpose of hosting a statewide conference on suicide by first responders, and developing a plan to address the issue.
Health care was among other major discussions. An appropriation of $3.2 million was made by the Senate for developmental disability agency providers, as well as requirements laid out for the Department of Health to submit a supplemental budget request for the fiscal year 2024 for the continued operation of the Wyoming home services care program.