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Report: Medicaid Expansion States Faring Better on Budgets, Revenues

A new report shows states that expanded Medicaid coverage lowered costs, increased revenues and reduced the number of workers without health insurance. (Candice Harrison/Wikimedia Commons)
A new report shows states that expanded Medicaid coverage lowered costs, increased revenues and reduced the number of workers without health insurance. (Candice Harrison/Wikimedia Commons)
February 4, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wy. - As Wyoming works to resolve a nearly $217 million budget shortfall, a new report shows states that expanded Medicaid coverage lowered costs, increased revenues and reduced the number of workers without health insurance. Comments from Bri Jones, executive director, Equality State Policy Center.

States that decided to expand Medicaid coverage have fewer workers without insurance, and also saw budget savings and revenue gains, according to a new report by the nonpartisan group Families USA.

As the Appropriations Committee struggles to balance the state budget this weekend, Bri Jones,executive director with the Equality State Policy Center, says expanding Medicaid would bring $268 million in tax dollars back to Wyoming.

"Not only does it save state dollars immediately, $31 million to the department of health budget alone, but it's also a revenue generator and an economic driver," she says. "It creates jobs."

Some critics have claimed Wyoming couldn't afford to expand Medicaid, but Jones says the study confirms the program could actually save the state money.

The report found with more people covered, uncompensated care costs, a big hit for hospitals and state budgets, dropped. And it found that expansion states added more health-care jobs than non-expansion states, boosting the tax base and local and state economies.

Jones says expanding health coverage is more than an economic issue. According to the report, states that expanded Medicaid beat non-expansion states in reducing the number of workers without insurance by nearly two-to-one.

"Wyoming's working families are the ones that would benefit," says Jones. "People working in construction, our farm and ranch hands, people working in the service industry. And they all work hard but are unable to afford insurance."

If Wyoming opts to expand coverage, a family of three would qualify if they earn just under $28,000 a year or less. The federal government pays 100 percent of the costs this year, and starting in 2017, the federal share gradually declines until it reaches 90 percent in 2020, where it stays.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY