The idea of expanding the federal Medicaid program in Wyoming remains alive in the legislature, even though one of the two bills aimed at doing that died on Monday due to a procedural deadline.

House Bill 162 was acted upon just in time in the Wyoming House to keep the bill alive, as lawmakers approved the measure on first reading just in front of a deadline.

The same can't be said for Senate File 154. That bill wasn't so much defeated as it died from a lack of action. Monday was the last day for the first reading of bills in the House of origin. House Bill 162 got in just ahead of the deadline, while Senate File 154 missed it and is now dead for this session.

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Expanding the federal Medicaid program so that people at 138 percent of the federal poverty guideline are eligible has been a contentious issue in the legislature for many years. Even the backing of then-Governor Matt Mead, who is a Republican, has not been enough to get an expansion bill finalized and signed into law. But proposals to expand the program in Wyoming are put forward on a regular basis.

Opponents of the measure worry about the cost to the state far exceeding projections, either because of an explosion of applications for the program or because the federal government backs away from promises to pick up 90 percent of the tab. Some opponents also argue that expanding Medicaid takes the program well beyond its original intent.

Supporters say it is needed to give roughly 25,000 state residents healthcare coverage. They also say that lack of coverage is costing Wyoming Hospitals roughly $100 million per year in uncompensated health care costs.

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