If not Medicaid expansion, what is the solution?

While legislators statewide are once again beginning to talk of expanding Medicaid, the overall opinion seems to be that no such expansion will pass this session.

Fears of big government, government handouts and the feds not following through on their promise to pay have Wyoming Republican officials shying away from Medicaid expansion proposals.

In the meantime, figures indicate that more than 16,000 Wyoming residents could benefit from the expansion. Many of those beneficiaries would be children.

In addition, state health officials have predicted that the expansion may have saved the state $47 million over seven years.

But, why take handouts from a federal government nobody trusts?

Sheridan Health Center Executive Director Cathi Kindt says many in the Sheridan area would have benefitted from the expansion because they don’t make enough to afford insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, but make too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Instead, she said, there are still thousands of Wyoming residents, and Sheridan County residents, who will continue to fall through the cracks of the American health care system.

It seems legislators are more interested in standing against Obamacare and all it stands for than utilizing the programs within it to help Wyoming residents. The Medicaid expansion is part of the president’s signature law and the concerns expressed mirror those of the larger law — distrust, implementation and whether or not it will work.

That is fine. Caution and care are worthy qualities when it comes to handling taxpayer dollars. But this is a program that could save the state’s taxpayers some money. If the expansion does not happen, federal dollars that are collected in this state will simply go elsewhere. Why not let those dollars do some good here.

Other concerns, as expressed by Rep. Mike Madden, R-Buffalo, indicate objections to the implied undertones. “Government programs that are given away very seldom go away,” Madden said.

Yet, not all Republicans are against the Medicaid expansion. Governors in New Jersey, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio and others have signed on to the expansion. They put the needs of their constituents ahead of political ambitions and dog fights.

Perhaps it is time for Wyoming legislators and Gov. Matt Mead to do the same. Or, they should speak up, and tell us what their solution would be.


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