Natrona County has two open state Senate districts in this election: SD28, represented by Republican Jim Anderson, and SD30, represented by Republican Charlie Scott.

Anderson, a one-term incumbent, has earned the chance to continue serving HD28, but in SD30, it’s time for a change in leadership. Fortunately, Scott’s challenger, Democrat Bob Ford, has the potential to do the job ably.

Anderson, who is running against Democrat Kimberly Holloway, is a capable member of the Natrona County delegation to the Wyoming State Legislature. In the four years since he won the seat for the first time, he says he’s acquired the experience he needs to begin making a difference for his constituents.

The longtime Republican is well-suited to do so. Anderson’s spending priorities include education, municipalities and health – all critical areas as the state faces a downturn in the energy industry. He says a state income tax isn’t in the cards, but he has wisely refrained from signing any pledge that would keep him from fully considering changes to the state’s tax code, including ending exemptions or increasing the tax on optional items such as cigarettes or beer. He calls himself a proponent of study, not blinders – a welcome description in these polarized times.

To be as effective as possible, though, Anderson must get serious about health care. He does not support expanding Medicaid to some 20,000 low-income adults, and he has offered support for the approach introduced in the past by Sen. Charlie Scott.

Anderson must take a clear-eyed view of the health care landscape in the state. If he won’t support Medicaid expansion, he needs to be part of the solution by proposing or building support for an alternative plan with strong prospects. We believe he’s a thoughtful, skilled and compassionate state senator capable of doing so.

In Senate District 30, Scott is running for re-election against Democratic challenger Bob Ford.

The cost and delivery of health care is a tremendous problem across the nation. Scott is chairman of the Senate’s Labor, Health and Social Services Committee. Medicaid expansion is a part of the federal solution to address a very real nationwide problem in our health care system where, because everyone is not covered, those who are must carry the burden of those who aren’t. The system is big and clearly very complicated. Scott has said he opposes Medicaid expansion because, among other reasons, the federal government cannot be trusted to fund the program long-term.

The governor, the department of health and more than 30 Wyoming organizations including associations of hospitals, municipalities and business supported accepting federal Medicaid expansion. For some of these organizations, Medicaid expansion was not a best choice — it was the only choice besides doing nothing to remedy a very real problem. But the Legislature, led by Scott, appears to prefer no solution to one that risks rewarding some 20,000 uninsured Wyomingites while saddling the other 500,000 of us and the hospitals that serve our communities, to pay the tab.

Affording health care is a very real problem in many Wyoming households. If expanding Medicaid is not the solution, then what is? In 2015, Scott torpedoed any chance a seemingly reasonable, state-vetted SHARE Plan had of succeeding. Scott did propose a concept similar to the failed Healthy Frontiers plan – but at the end of the day, because of Scott’s leadership, Wyomingites across the board are left without a solution to a pressing problem. Strident distrust of the federal government is not a good enough reason to find ourselves without a solution.

In many ways, Scott has been an excellent lawmaker for 40 years and deserves recognition, respect and appreciation for that time and service to constituents. Those constituents, however, should still expect a fresh approach to problems when needed.

Ford, a first-time candidate, has the convictions and temperament to represent his constituents well. He’s a proponent of expanding Medicaid, saying the state shouldn’t pass up federal money that would otherwise go to other states. He also rightly points out that the issue of connecting these low-income Wyomingites with the health care they need isn’t going away and that rejecting expansion hurts our economy, including the hospitals who treat people who can’t pay, and that those costs are passed on to paying customers – in this case, patients who have to pay more than they normally would for procedures.

Ford, who said he was a career IRS collections agent, has the backbone and determination to get things done in Cheyenne but also supports a diversity of opinions, saying a variety of perspectives improves the final product. That means he would effectively communicate his views as a member of the minority party while working with his colleagues in a productive way, which is exactly what Wyoming needs to recover from the bust and plot a successful future.

Scott has been in the Legislature for decades – long enough to have learned how to be effective. But the results haven’t borne that out, and results matter. Voters in Senate District 30 have a good option in Ford.

We encourage Natrona County voters to send Anderson and Ford to Cheyenne. The Wyoming Senate is likely to be a better, more productive body if they are part of it.

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