Saturday, January 4, 2014

Governor Mead's three healthcare ideas

Governor Mead is constitutionally required to balance the budget. He meets that requirement only because he trusts the federal government’s promise to give Wyoming 1.56 billion dollars. Yet Mead says Wyoming shouldn’t expand Medicaid to provide health insurance for the working poor because he doesn’t trust them to pay their share.

On January 9th members of Wyoming’s faith community will gather to ask the governor and legislators how they can take 1.56 billion federal dollars to balance their budget but claim not to trust the feds on this one. If they don’t trust the feds, why accept any of their promises to pay?

Anyone concerned about the uninsured should gather in the Herschler Building at 11:30 AM January 9th to demonstrate public support for Medicaid expansion and to listen to any better ideas the Republicans may offer.

It’s not fair to say the governor-of-some-of-the-people has no ideas. By my count, he’s actually had three. As a candidate, his lonesome idea was to join a lawsuit seeking to have the Affordable Care Act overturned. He did so immediately upon becoming the supreme leader. The Supreme Court ruled against him but its decision gave him a second idea.

The Court said states could decide whether to expand Medicaid. Mead then unveiled his second idea. “Wyoming won’t!”

Recently Mead testified before the Joint Appropriations Committee, offering his third idea. Senator John Hastert asked what ideas Mead has for uninsured Wyoming citizens if not to expand Medicaid coverage.

The governor’s new idea? “Healthy Frontiers.” The governor who sought to have healthcare reform ruled unconstitutional and then stood in the doorway like a modern-day George Wallace blocking Medicaid expansion comes up with nothing better than an idea the legislature junked two years ago?

Even the Liberty Group concluded Healthy Frontiers was a terrible idea.

“Healthy Frontiers never lived up to the lofty expectations of its sponsor,” said the Liberty Group. “Sen. Scott sold the program to legislators in 2010 as a cost saving, Wyoming alternative to Medicaid. The more legislators learned about Healthy Frontiers, the greater their concern grew. The program was plagued by low enrollment and a lack of health care providers willing to work within its rules. Estimates proved ‘Healthy Frontiers’ was likely to cost Wyoming more per enrollee than Medicaid recipients.”
Three years after Mead’s election, two years after the legislature killed “Healthy Frontiers,” and in the second year Medicaid expansion languishes on his desk, our governor’s best idea is “Healthy Frontiers”?
His own Health Department demonstrated Medicaid expansion saves the state millions while delivering effective care at an administrative overhead of 4%. But the governor continues to obstruct real solutions while offering nothing.
While defending the indefensible with arguments that make sense nowhere else but at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, he is absolutely barren of ideas, bereft of logic, and unembarrassedly ignores the plight of families suffering with inadequate medical care. Mead plays merrily at politics but not seriously at governing.
Mead says Obamacare won’t be successful. He’s been peddling that nonsense from the beginning. Obamacare has already been successful in those states where governors want solutions.
Recently three Democratic governors discussed their experiences. Governors Jay Inslee, Washington, Steve Beshear, Kentucky, and Dannel Malloy, Connecticut, defined the difference between them and governors like Mead. They said the ACA, “has been successful in our states because our political leaders grasped the importance of expanding health-care coverage and have avoided the temptation to use healthcare reform as a political football.” 
Washington State authorized Medicaid expansion knowing not only the uninsured benefit, but because expansion could create 10,000 jobs while saving the state $300 million in the first 18 months. Kentucky expanded Medicaid after independent studies proved Medicaid expansion offered huge savings in the state budget while creating 17,000 jobs.
Wyoming’s problems require a more thoughtful governor. Mead has no ideas other than saying no to Obamacare. While that may address his political problems with the right it doesn’t solve the problems left in the lives of real people.

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