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Letter to the editor: Opt out of Medicaid?

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 23rd, 2013

Several governors in our country are opposed to an opportunity to better serve many of our most vulnerable citizens by denying an Affordable Care Act proposal. Millions of uninsured folks desire and need health insurance.

About half of those eligible would and could be covered by the expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal program for the lowest-income Americans. The Supreme Court decision last year allowed states to opt out of the expansion.

Many governors and legislators, including Gov. Matt Mead and the Wyoming Legislature, chose to ideologically fuel the fire against the Affordable Care Act and not go forward with Medicaid expansion. The folks that will suffer as a result of these decisions will be the poorest residents, the state’s hospitals and our own state budget.

As I recall, Wyoming stood to lose $47 million the federal government was going to kick in. The feds were going foot the entire bill for three years and 90 percent thereafter.

 I find this extremely interesting since Gov. Perry from Texas, Gov. Jindal from Louisiana and Gov. Haley from South Carolina rank as states with some of the highest uninsured residents. These three states, along with a dozen others, are saying no and preventing an estimated 5 million people from obtaining coverage.

Their biggest objection is the expansion is unaffordable and the federal government will not honor its commitments. These states have decided to quit the expansion before it gets started. Interesting since the states would be free to drop the coverage if the feds don’t come up with their shared costs.

 Hospitals would also benefit from Medicaid expansion … many are lobbying very hard to get this accomplished. The more folks with insurance coverage equates to fewer desperate people showing up in emergency rooms with no way of paying for their treatment. States and the feds typically share the costs of this “uncompensated care,” but the Affordable Care Act cuts the federal payments by 50 percent because people would have insurance.

 It is also interesting that some of these same states refused to join the Medicaid program when it originated in 1966. Many of their most vulnerable citizens suffered needlessly, as some are now. Eventually, all states signed up. Let us hope we awaken early and get this issue, as well as others central to our livelihood, resolved. It is the RIGHT thing to do!

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