The federal government is offering Wyoming money to expand Medicaid coverage to 16,000 low-income adults who lack health insurance. Last year, the state Legislature decided against expansion, which is being offered as part of the new health care law, commonly called Obamacare. On Friday, Mead recommended state lawmakers make the same choice again in the upcoming session.
Pete Gosar, the Wyoming Democratic Party chairman, said in a statement released to the media on Monday that Mead was more interested in cementing ideological purity and winning elections than being reasonable.
“But these callous political calculations don't help young families find health care, and they certainly don't strengthen the financial viability of our local hospitals and medical clinics,” Gosar said. “These type of decisions hamstring Wyoming’s people with unaffordable healthcare costs, and makes our businesses less competitive.”
Robin Van Ausdall, executive director of the Wyoming Democratic Party, said that many of the 16,000 adults without health insurance earn too much money to qualify for subsidies on the exchanges, or marketplaces where people can compare prices and policies.
“His refusal to support Medicaid expansion all but ensures that Wyoming's less fortunate and working poor will continue to be without access to Wyoming's healthcare system,” Gosar said.
But on Monday, Mead’s spokesman, Renny MacKay, said the governor doesn’t want the 16,000 Wyomingites to be without healthcare. He just thinks a Medicaid expansion could be problematic.
In his recommendations for the state’s two-year budget that the Legislature will have to balance in early 2014, Mead said the healthcare law is in doubt. The rollout has been plagued with difficulties. Since online health insurance exchanges began operation, some people have learned they can no longer keep the same insurance policies they once had.
“There’s no question there’s an issue related to these 16,000,” MacKay said. “[Mead’s] position, though, is this is not the answer to that issue.”
MacKay noted that the governor is proposing $200,000 for the team health care delivery concept known as medical homes, $200,000 for aging and disability resource centers, $200,000 for the 211 phone resource that connects Wyomingites with community services, $2.7 million for immunization and $1 million for a partnership to expand electronic health records.