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Goggles backing bills on Medicaid waiver, higher beer tax

Feb 7, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Wyoming Legislature begins its 2014 session next week, and House District 33 Rep. Patrick Goggles has eye on several bills to support.

On the Ethete Democrat's priority list are health-related bills, including the 1115 waiver through Medicaid for the American Indian population that would help reimburse for adult services for people who fall under the 138 percent federal poverty level.

At the same time, these individuals would be able to obtain services from the Indian Health Services. The bill would allow the governor to authorize the Wyoming Department of Health to apply for this waiver even if the state does not participate in full Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Without the waiver, tribal members would be restrained from working directly with the Department of Health. The legislation would allow collaboration and provide additional services to American Indian patients who have no health insurance.

Goggles also said he would be in support of the bills that involve the "Arkansas model," which lets the states buy private coverage for people at the poverty level through the new federal insurance marketplace and offer reimbursements to providers at a higher rate than the Medicaid rate.

He said he also supports Medicaid expansion-with-limited-benefits bill that provides cost sharing similar to a private insurance policy along with using the traditional Medicaid administration.

Goggles said he would back two companion bills sponsored by State Sen. Ray Peterson, R- Cowley, that raises the tax on malt beverages and the other that creates an alcohol abuse program fund for city governments through a grant system.

A proposal to increase the minimum wage in the state is another bill Goggles hopes to support. The bill proposes to raise the state's $5.15 to $9 per hour.

Goggles said he would oppose legislation that would close Lander's Wyoming Life Resource Center.

"There are clients there that require 24/7 care, and those facilities are not available statewide," he said.

The residential facility provides medical support and rehabilitation services to individuals with brain injuries and other disabilities.

The Wyoming Department of Health conducted a study to determine if those clients would be better off receiving services at other facilities.

Goggles, starting his fifth term in the House, said he's watching closely all bills relating to education, taxation, and others involving contracts with the tribes from the state.