Wyoming governor says no to Medicaid expansion


Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) says no to Medicaid expansion, for now (Photo courtesy Gov. Matt Mead’s office)

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) said Friday he doesn’t want his state to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage, due to problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act so far.

Mead, a longtime opponent of the law, said the federal health-care exchanges set up under the ACA have hurt more than they have helped, undercutting his confidence in the federal government’s commitment to cover 90 percent of the costs of Medicaid expansion into the future.

“We were going to get people into the exchange, a lot of young, healthy people into the exchange, and in doing that you’re going to ultimately cut costs for everyone,” Mead told reporters by phone from the Middle East, where he spent Thanksgiving meeting troops from Wyoming, according to the Associated Press. “And when you see the exchange, in my view, doing more to kick people off of insurance instead of putting them on, sort of the whole notion, the whole pretext of how this is going to work is in doubt.”

Wyoming’s Republican-dominated legislature last year voted against accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid. While some Republican governors have been able to expand the program by executive action, the Wyoming legislature’s bill prohibits implementation without express legislative action, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which keeps tabs on state action on Medicaid expansion.

In Wyoming, an expansion would have covered an additional 16,000 low-income adults in the Cowboy State. Mead said he would be open to supporting an expansion if it eventually appears to be in his state’s financial interest.

Democrats say expanding Medicaid, and the federal dollars that would come with it, would save the state hundreds of millions. Senate Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss (D) told the AP that Wyoming was bypassing $750 million in funding over seven years by turning down the expansion.

Just eight Republican governors have opted to expand Medicaid. Many of those who haven’t express skepticism that the federal government will keep its promise to cover 90 percent of the costs of expansion after the first several years.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

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Reid Wilson · December 1, 2013

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