Wyoming moves closer to Medicaid work requirement

Wyoming moves closer to Medicaid work requirement
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A bill to establish work requirements for thousands of Medicaid recipients in Wyoming passed its first reading on Friday in the state's House.

The Casper Star Tribune reported that the bill survived, despite appearing doomed moments before the vote.

The measure would require "able-bodied" Wyoming residents to work 20 hours per week in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

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Work requirements under the bill would not affect parents who have children under age 6 or those who are pregnant or disabled. 

The bill now must survive two more votes in the House, according to the Star Tribune, before heading to the desk of Gov. Mark Gordon (R). Gordon has previously opposed Medicaid expansion, Wyoming News reported.

A similar bill died in the Wyoming state House last year after passing the Senate, according to the Star Tribune.

Wyoming has 60,000 Medicaid recipients, according to the state Department of Health. Republicans advocating for the bill say that 2,000 to 3,000 of those recipients would be affected by the bill.

“The number of able-bodied adults we’re targeting here is relatively small,” said Rep. Scott Clem (R), according to the Star Tribune.

Critics of the bill have said a provision in the bill that locks out Wyoming residents from Medicaid benefits for six months should they fail to meet the work requirements could lead to some recipients being forced off the program.

“If you’re in treatment for cancer — and half the people in Wyoming with cancer go out-of-state for treatment — and you’re there for a considerable amount of time, you may not even know you need to turn in that paperwork (that’s needed for benefits),” a spokesman for the Cancer Action Network said, according to the Star Tribune. “I have concern for folks who might slip through the cracks that way.”