By Bob Beck
Cheyenne, WY – A pilot project intended to help people afford insurance and health care has passed the Wyoming House of Representatives.
The house killed the bill last year, mainly because many saw it as an entitlement program. During the final debate on the bill, Casper Republican Roy Cohee urged the house to support an amendment that would have required those in the program to work at least 30 hours a week. But Laramie Republican Kermit Brown pointed out that the 500 people who could qualify for the pilot program are at 200 percent of poverty or below and don't qualify for Medicaid. Brown adds that the bill already requires them to work at least 20 hours per week. He says they want low income people in the program to see if the idea works: "It's intended to take a segment of population that's employed, at least to some extent, and get them into a health care program that we think will cost less than medicaid will cost. You know the alternative is that they will just quit work and get into medicaid. And we will take the hit on that."
The bill passed and already has the approval of the Senate. The Governor called the measure one of his priorities. He predicts that it could lead to reduced health care costs in Wyoming.