It must have gotten lost in the mail.
That’s Wyoming’s excuse for why the state seems to be dragging its feet on federal Medicaid expansion. Gov. Matt Mead and other state leaders insist they’ve sent plenty of letters to federal leaders, but haven’t heard back.
Gov. Matt Mead has said that he can’t make a decision on the issue until all the facts are known. He can’t make a decision about Medicaid expansion until he has answers.
Other states are pushing forward. Other states have the same information. And, even the experts within state government report there will be savings.
Meanwhile, legislators continue their same sluggish pace on the issue, as they continue to insist the Medicaid expansion, like all parts of “Obamacare,” is nothing more than a less-than-clever trick by the federal government that will eventually require states to foot the cost.
We have to wonder: Will there ever be enough information to know definitively all the answers? And when and if that happens, won’t it be too late? And, when have Legislatures ever been able to count on the federal government’s promise of today, tomorrow?
The reality is more likely that stalling and foot dragging fits a pretty convenient political excuse in a state that’s almost reflexively rabid when it comes to Obamacare. Residents don’t really care if the reason for stalling is valid, they just care that local politicians fight the federal government in whatever way they can.
We get it: Politicians around here can’t be seen as soft or in any way admitting that there are provisions of Obamacare that seem to make sense. Doing so in Wyoming is a fireable offense for a politician.
Yet, Wyoming also prides itself on good conservative fiscal principles. And the math right now, by the state’s estimation as well as others across the country, is that there are parts, Medicaid included, that stand to save the state millions.
Legislators, including our own Sen. Charles Scott, argue persuasively that Wyoming could develop its own health reform plan that would be more cheap and efficient.
That’s great, but where are the details? It’s not like Obamacare has been a surprise.
And that’s the problem.
Lawmakers knew that Obamacare had been passed and was coming. While there were legal challenges, the lawmakers had plenty of time and opportunity to create a plan and then sell it to the public.
Instead, what we have is nothing: Wyoming waiting on a federal response, and lawmakers telling citizens they could do better, but not showing how.
In fact, the one program that showed some initiative, some promise was Scott’s “Healthy Frontiers.”
We would welcome a plan that would take care of those who vulnerable citizens who need Medicaid. If it could be done better and cheaper, then Wyoming would once again demonstrate how other states and the country could learn a lesson. For right now, there’s nothing. Wyoming will be saddled with what it most fears: The federal government will come in and take over because of lawmakers’ dithering.
Instead, what we hope for is that Wyoming will be able to use its smaller population as an advantage to be flexible. Hopefully, we can once again test the system, capture savings when it’s possible, and pioneer new programs that can become the model for others.
But that won’t happen as we wait for correspondence from the federal government.
And that won’t happen as we hope for intervention from the United States Supreme Court on a number of appeals.
It will only happen when we get to work, after the political gamesmanship is done.