More Than a Decade After Passage of Federal Health Care Law, Wyoming Still Has Not Increased Access to Affordable Health Coverage

March 23, 2022

Cheyenne, Wyo. – Today marks 12 years since the historic passage of the Affordable Care Act, and yet roughly 24,000 Wyoming residents remain uninsured, denied coverage by state lawmakers who refuse to increase access to Medicaid.

Wyoming is one of only 12 states that has not increased access to health insurance coverage through their Medicaid programs despite overwhelming evidence that doing so would improve health outcomes, reduce health disparities, and benefit the state’s economy. Despite excellent momentum and bipartisan support from many lawmakers, constituents and community partners statewide, the Wyoming legislature failed to introduce a Medicaid expansion bill this session.

“Where you live shouldn’t determine if you live – unfortunately, in Wyoming it does,” said R.J. Ours, ACS CAN government relations director. “Everyone deserves a fair and equitable chance to fight cancer, manage chronic illnesses and maintain their health. Medicaid makes that possible – but by denying Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands of state residents, lawmakers are denying them this basic human right.”

Recent research from the American Cancer Society has found in states that have expanded access to Medicaid coverage, early-stage diagnoses increased, particularly among rural and Black patients; Medicaid expansion was associated with a greater increase in one-year overall survival rates, especially in the poorest areas of states; and higher Medicaid income eligibility limits were associated with better long-term survival, consistent across a variety of cancers and for patients with both early and late stage diagnosis.

Additionally, a poll from ACS CAN, the AARP, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association finds that nearly two-thirds of Wyoming voters across political parties support Medicaid expansion. It also found that 65% of the state’s voters want their state legislator to support this policy. 

"Refusing to increase access to Medicaid coverage is purely political posturing and it’s putting individual’s lives at stake," Ours continued. "The benefits of extending eligibility limits for low-income individuals through Medicaid are clear and it’s time lawmakers take this long-overdue step to close the coverage gap. No one should suffer a day without the health care coverage they need and deserve"

ACS CAN is deeply grateful for Senator Cale Case and Representatives Steve Harshman and Patrick Sweeney and others who championed and supported Medicaid expansion during this recent legislative session. ACS CAN will continue this year’s momentum to resume this work in 2023 and ensure the state finally increases access to health care for the thousands of residents who need it most.

This year, roughly 3,140 Wyoming residents will hear the words ‘you have cancer.’ Those who are uninsured can’t wait any longer for coverage.