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Senate committee considers Medicaid bill

Feb 19, 2014 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Witnesses testifying in favor of a bill to expand the Medicaid program in Wyoming told lawmakers Wednesday that the program offers their sole hope of receiving adequate medical care.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, is the main sponsor of a bill to expand the program. He said the bill would extend health care coverage to 17,600 adults and save the state millions of dollars.

"One group of our population has no coverage without taking some action," Rothfuss said.

The Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee took testimony for two hours Wednesday before recessing.

Medicaid expansion is a basic element of the federal Affordable Care Act.

The Legislature last year rejected $50 million in federal funds to expand the program.

Gov. Matt Mead and many legislators said they distrust federal promises to continue to pay the entire cost of the expansion for the first few years. They have said they fear it would be difficult for the state to scale back the program if they let it grow and the federal government later pulls out.

Two bills sponsored by the Joint Interim Labor, Health and Social Services Committee that would have expanded Medicaid failed their introductory votes. Rothfuss' bill is the last one remaining.

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Legislature, Wyoming