Politics should be more like mathematics. Take this problem.
Susie has one apple. She needs ten to make an apple pie. If Johnnie gives her
nine apples, will Susie have enough? Mathematicians would say, “Yes, 1 + 9 =
10.” Whether the mathematician is a Republican or a Democrat 9 + 1 should equal
10, unless the facts are manipulated. Unlike mathematicians, politicians can equivocate
and say, “I just don’t trust Johnnie to give her any of those apples.”

Forty-percent of Wyoming’s
high school graduates require remedial math because they didn’t learn it well
enough in high school. Before the legislature adjourns we’ll see what that
percentage is among our legislators.

When Congress enacted Obamacare, it gave states some math
homework. Some states have been better at the math than others depending on
whether they really want to help Susie make that apple pie.

The law provides for a “mandatory expansion” of Medicaid and
an “optional expansion.” Congress didn’t care whether states agreed to the
optional expansion. There were some people they had to cover regardless, mainly
children. That will cost Wyoming (jot down this number) 80 million dollars.

The 80 million dollar figure is critical to getting this
math problem correct because the state legislature must spend that regardless
of whether they like Obamacare or not. Those dollars are gone!

Then Congress added to the equation. Knowing a lot of other
folks, namely the working poor, still need healthcare, Congress said that if
the states choose to participate, the federal government would pay no less than
90% of the costs of covering those families.

This number is critical to the math because today Wyoming
taxpayers are paying all of the costs for providing medical care to these
folks. Programs created by state legislators to provide care for the uninsured
cost you millions. Some of the costs are paid when uninsured people end up in
hospitals and can’t pay. There’s also a cost when health insurance premiums
increase dramatically because the costs of caring for the uninsured are shifted
to the insured.

In addition to the millions of dollars the legislature
appropriates every year for these programs, local hospitals lost 200 million
dollars last year caring for folks who could be insured with Medicaid
expansion.

Congress said to state mathematician/politicians, “Figure
out how much of that money you could save if you expanded Medicaid insurance to
cover your uninsured.” The Wyoming Department
of Health studied those costs and concluded that if legislators decide to
expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, there are 127 million dollars in
Wyoming’s budget that could be saved. That doesn’t include the 200 million in
uncompensated care at Wyoming hospitals, most of which would also be saved. Jot down the 127 million dollar savings while
keeping in mind the additional 200 million dollars (they’re your tax dollars
too).

Now you are ready to do the math.

Whether legislators like it or not, we must come up with 80
million tax dollars for the mandatory expansion. Wyoming starts 80 million
dollars in the hole. If legislators agree to the optional expansion, we’ll save
127 million tax dollars (plus, always remember, the hospital money). Simple
math. After paying for the mandatory expansion, you’ll save 47 million dollars.
That’s why the Department of Health calls Medicaid expansion a “great opportunity
for savings.”

There’s another number in the formula. If Medicaid is
expanded, approximately 864 million federal dollars will be added to Wyoming’s
healthcare system, creating jobs, improving the state’s medical infrastructure
and helping local economies.

Medicaid expansion saves tax dollars whether a Democrat or a
Republican does the math. But easy math problems become complicated by
partisanship. Math
collides with ideology. Some governors are better mathematicians than
others. Republican governors of North Dakota, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico opposed expansion but they
did the math and decided that saving millions trumped their dislike of
Obamacare.

If a
majority of Wyoming’s legislators need remedial math, it’ll cost us millions.

## No comments:

## Post a Comment