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Editorial board: Scott wrong-headed on Medicaid expansion

Editorial board: Scott wrong-headed on Medicaid expansion

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On Medicaid expansion, Sen. Charles Scott needs to get on board or get out of the way.

At the moment, the Casper Republican is trying to play the spoiler. He's lambasting a reasonable expansion plan as some lunatic European-like scheme and pushing his own expansion version, a retread of a plan Scott long has pushed but the state doesn't want. It's a tired, dog-whistle approach, and we expect better from Scott.

We're not the only ones who feel this way. Health care and business leaders are criticizing Scott for pushing against the state-proposed SHARE Plan to responsibly expand Medicaid, and they’re right to do so. The Wyoming Legislature needs to shrug off Scott's criticism and seriously consider the value of the SHARE Plan. It's a good deal for Wyoming, one that fits our values.

The details of the SHARE Plan reveals its worth. It's a responsible expansion of Medicaid that covers patients who would otherwise rely on the charity of hospitals to pay for their care. Such expenses get shifted to other patients and the state. It meets the concerns of lawmakers who were concerned expansion didn't include an element of responsibility by the newly covered patients. It answers concerns about a future withdrawal of federal support for the expansion. What's not to like? 

But Scott doesn't like it. To argue against it in a recent column in our pages, he deploys rhetorical tools equating Medicaid expansion to some sort of single-payer "European" model that doesn't exist and slams the expansion as some sort of sneaky way to convert the United States into a European-style social democracy. His statements miss the mark and stretch belief. Of course, deriding the idea in such a way is a cheap way to cast mud on the SHARE Plan. If you don't like Obamacare, you shouldn't like the SHARE Plan, according to Scott. Again, more mud, and a simplistic caricature of a serious policy solution.  

So what's Scott's alternative? His proposal, one narrowly given an OK by an interim legislative committee for consideration by the broader body, bears many similarities to Scott's Healthy Frontiers proposal of old. It's worth remembering the Healthy Frontiers proposal didn't make it and wasn't wanted. Scott certainly wishes it had been embraced, though. Nostalgia is a bad reason to bring forward a brushed-up version of a failed proposal. It gained some support from Scott's fellow lawmakers, which confused us and many others around the state. We'd wager that once it sees the light of day, it won't do so well.

Scott is a smart man. He's been immersed the Wyoming health care issue a long time. He is seen as an expert on these matters. But his plan and wrong-headed approach discredit his qualifications. We'd be interested to hear him bring forward a better plan. Instead, it's possible Scott's last-minute replacement proposal could burden the state with additional costs. We don't know that yet, but neither does Scott. Yet that didn't stop him from pitching the plan. Remind us again: Where's the responsibility?

We’re hearing there’s support for the Legislature to call up the SHARE Plan for consideration, and that’s good news. The plan may not have Scott’s support, but it does have the support of business and health care heavyweights in the state. Instead of trying to cloud the air with rhetorical stinkbombs, we hope Scott can join the discussion on expansion in a fruitful way. His counter-proposal of a plan should be considered a non-starter. If Scott has a plan that is actually better, he should put it forward, rather than trying to torpedo the SHARE Plan or pitch his old, failed ideas.

It's time to responsibly expand Medicaid. From what we've seen, the SHARE Plan is the best way to do so.

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