Wyoming Department of Health: Hanna meningitis case no reason to panic

The Wyoming Department of Health reports that a case of meningitis in Hanna is not a cause for alarm. Officials say only one form of the bug can cause a public health concern, and typically it only infects people who have close contact with the individual who has the bacteria. Emma Diercks has the latest on last week’s health scare.

 

 

Photo: Cali O’Hare/Bigfoot 99.

Huckleberry’s restaurant abruptly closes in Rawlins

In Rawlins, another longtime business has closed its doors. The owner blames the failure on the recently ended government shutdown. Cali O’Hare has the details.

 

 

File photo.

Work requirements may be on the way for some Medicaid recipients

By Jim O’Reilly

At the legislature Friday, two last-second reversals from a “no” vote to an “aye” nudged forward a bill in the house that requires able-bodied Medicaid recipients in Wyoming to work 20 hours a week to receive benefits.

Senate File 144 appeared headed to the brink when Representatives Jim Blackburn of Laramie County and Tom Crank of Lincoln County flipped their votes after the original roll call.

The vote made national news. SF 144 seeks approval from Washington for a waiver that would require some Medicaid recipients to put in 20 hours a week in any combination of work, job training or volunteering with community organizations.

The hot-button legislation passed the Wyoming senate with overwhelming approval earlier this month.

During floor debate in the house Friday, Representative Dan Laursen of Park County characterized the bill as reasonable, and said any savings realized by moving people off Medicaid would be diverted to other programs.

About 60,000 Wyoming residents receive some kind of Medicaid benefit. They range from those who are chronically ill and unable to work to able-bodied 20 and 30-year-olds living below the poverty line.

The overwhelming majority of Medicaid recipients would not be affected by the requirements in SF 144. Exemptions include anyone under the age of 18 or over 65, pregnant, medically unable, a parent with a child under eight years old, anyone in a drug or alcohol treatment program or collecting unemployment insurance.

Representative Scott Clem of Campbell County said that fewer than 3,000 current Medicaid recipients would be affected.

Concerns among lawmakers were big, though. Representative Lloyd Larsen of Fremont County symbolized the conflicts the bill represented for lawmakers. Larsen said while he supports encouraging people to work, he worries the bill shifts the burden to the Department of Health to manage the program and to local hospitals.

Larsen said he was neutral on the bill and was one of the two excused votes in the final roll call Friday.

Full on against the bill was Representative Dan Zonwitzer of Cheyenne said the group targeted by the bill — essentially 18 to 30-year-olds at or below the poverty line — already face enough burdens. But even Zwonitzer seemed conflicted, saying the use of a “stick” might help some.

Zwonitzer said the legislature should take more time to study the issue to avoid what he said were the pitfalls in the bill.

Nine other states have some kind of work requirement attached to Medicaid. Other states are considering similar rules to trim their Medicaid rolls.

In this group, only Wisconsin is like Wyoming in that it has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. SF 144 faces two more readings in the house starting today.

 

Lawmakers swat down school security legislation

Wyoming lawmakers killed a bill that would require all school districts to have a state-approved security plan. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said she will continue to advocate for legislation for future legislative sessions. Emma Diercks has the story.

 

 

Sports: County teams lay it all on the line

The first part of the basketball post-season has wrapped up, and a few teams will have a crack at a state championship. Joey Saverine recaps the busy weekend.

More Highlights:
  • UW basketball falls to CSU.
  • Cowgirls basketball team punishes Lady Rams.

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