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House Minority Floor Leader Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, speaks during the Legislative leadership press conference Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in the Historic Supreme Court chamber of the state Capitol. Leadership from both parties addressed members of the media and took questions following Gov. Mark Gordon’s State of the State address. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – If the first day of the session was any indication, Medicaid expansion faces a massive uphill battle to even be discussed in the state Legislature this year.

While it could still be reintroduced by a later vote, a House bill authorizing Gov. Mark Gordon to expand Medicaid failed to receive the necessary two-thirds for it to be considered in the coming weeks.

Representatives made the decision to remove the bill from the consent agenda during their first floor session of the year.

Like all the other bills on Monday’s consent agenda, the Medicaid expansion bill was sponsored by a committee. In November, members of the Joint Revenue Interim Committee voted to advance the bill by an 8-5 vote.

If approved by the full Legislature, the bill would have expanded Medicaid to uninsured people whose income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level – roughly $17,500 for a single person.

An estimated 19,000 people in Wyoming would be newly covered within 24 months of the expansion, according to recent estimates from the state Department of Health.

Bills can only be introduced until the end of this week, so any efforts to revive the bill will need to be done quickly. Rep. Sara Burlingame, D-Cheyenne, said House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, plans to reintroduce an individual version of the legislation in the next few days.

The swift vote to kill the bill comes after momentum for expansion had seemingly been building in recent weeks. Last month, a wide-ranging coalition called Healthy Wyoming announced its support for expansion. The coalition includes the Wyoming Hospital Association, Wyoming Medical Society, AARP Wyoming, the Equality State Policy Center and others.

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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