New Report Highlights Medicaid Expansion Benefits in Wyoming | Big Horn Radio Network | Wyoming

New Report Highlights Medicaid Expansion Benefits in Wyoming

Written by on May 25, 2021

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A new report made public last week has highlighted the potential benefits for workers in Wyoming as state lawmakers consider expanding Medicaid.

The Commonwealth Fund and George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health has projected that Medicaid expansion would create 1,900 jobs in the state, including two-thirds in the health care industry, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported Sunday.

Leighton Ku, university professor and lead author of the study, said more than $100 million in additional federal funds allotted for the state would create new employment opportunities and go to hospitals, pharmacies and health care providers likely to give the money to their employees. That money would then generate additional spending for the state’s economy, which Ku estimates at about $4 million in the first year of expansion.

Medicaid expansion would also benefit uninsured workers in the hospitality, food service and retail industries, a separate university report said last week. That report estimates more than half of the state’s uninsured workers come from the industries, based on unemployment numbers from 2019.

“This data is pre-pandemic, and when you think about what happened during the pandemic and how hospitality got hit really hard, this data suggests it’s only gotten worse for these low-wage workers,” said Joan Alker, the second report’s co-author.

“There’s no evidence that states that expanded Medicaid saw increases in their unemployment rates,” Ku said. “If anything, Medicaid expansion creates jobs, because there’s more money, there’s a sort of a new influx of federal funding that, in the end, goes to health care providers, goes to grocery stores, goes to construction companies, etc.”

It is unclear if the Legislature will consider Medicaid expansion during a possible special session this July. Republican state House Speaker Eric Barlow was not immediately available to comment.

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