A lot of decisions in the Wyoming Legislature are made via anecdote. The process often starts like this, "I once knew a guy who..."
Some years ago, at a healthcare meeting with healthcare providers a State Senator said, "I know a woman, healthiest woman I know, she's in her 90s, she has 5 children and 14 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, and she's never slept more than 3 hours a night. I know the doctors say you need to sleep, but she proves that you don't."
Recently, a Legislator testified that he saw an "able-bodied" man using SNAP benefits (formerly know as foodstamps) to get food for his kids. So we find ourselves, once again, in the midst of legislation-by-anecdote: SF0144 Medicaid and SNAP eligibility will remove safety net benefits from thousands of poor Wyomingites.
If we were to legislate using data, what might the data tell us?
Fortunately for us, Arkansas has the answer. (Spoiler alert: it is bad news.) Arkansas' Medicaid work reporting rules have led to staggering health coverage losses. Here's a sample of the data:
In Arkansas, which rushed to become the first and only state to implement the new work reporting rules in 2018, the final numbers are now in. During the final four months of last year, 18,164 adults lost Medicaid coverage as a result of “noncompliance” with work reporting rules. The vast majority of those folks are likely to become uninsured for at least some period of time – exposing them to financial peril and worsening health. Arkansas is only applying the new rules to those living below the poverty line – for these folks there are scant options for other affordable coverage sources.
This spells disaster for thousands of people in Wyoming on Medicaid who may lose access to both healthcare and food for 12 months if found to be "noncompliant." This impacts women and families disproportionately. Its impacts trickle out into communities very quickly. Hospitals and businesses actually stand to lose more if this is passed and implemented. Our state's ERs will see more acutely sick patients who have no coverage at all resulting in greater losses. Sick people will get sicker, likely impacting their ability to find work or be productive employees damaging businesses over the long term. (It is a labor constrained environment, after all. Fewer workers is bad for business.)
We're asking you to contact every member of the House to speak on behalf of your neighbors. Start at the top of the list with Majority Floor Leader Barlow and ask him not to bring the bill to the floor. Do it today.