Governor Mead concerned about lack of health care response

Aug 6, 2012

Governor Matt Mead continues weighing the pros and cons of expanding Medicaid to include those in the state who earn 133 percent of the poverty scale.  The expansion is part of the healthcare overhaul known as the Affordable Care Act. 

Following a Supreme Court decision, it is up to individual states to determine whether to agree to the expansion.  The federal government will pay for the first three years of the expansion and will pay 90 percent every year after that.  But Governor Mead said that Wyoming is already struggling with existing Medicaid costs.  During a news conference on the subject, Mead said that the Wyoming Department of Health has studied what would happen if the state agreed to expand Medicaid.

“By 2020, just the ten percent that the state would have to pay after the first three years would be another 30 million dollars to the state.  So it will have a cost associated with it. ”

But supporters have said if more people have access to health care, it would save the state more money in the long run.  Mead said that is something they are studying.

“You know it’s a ledger sheet we have to figure all that out to see what is the least cost to the state.  If we do not do the Medicaid expansion is it gonna cost the state more, will we have more uninsured people.  If we do not do the Medicaid expansion, what will the costs be? ”

Mead said that his office also trying to determine if uninsured care in Wyoming will go down.  The governor added that he has asked several questions of federal health care officials and is still awaiting a response.

Well I’m frustrated by the lack of answers.  As I said, if you are going to say that states have to do these things and Medicaid expansion is just one element of it.  Remember we can choose or not to choose to do that, there’s still a lot to the ACA.  But my frustration is that I think they need to provide more clear guidance on how this is going to work. ”

Mead suspects that federal officials were probably like everyone else and were awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on the health care overhaul before they developed rules.  But he noted that those officials have also not said that states could have waivers on deadlines.  The governor said that he needs answers soon.