At budget hearings, Mead challenged on Medicaid expansion by Democrats

Dec 10, 2013 By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

Analysts say more than 17,000 uninsured Wyoming residents could be covered under the plan while saving the state about $50 million in the process.

CHEYENNE -- Democratic lawmakers questioned Gov. Matt Mead on Monday about his recommendation that Wyoming not expand Medicaid to offer health insurance to thousands of low-income adults.

Mead, a Republican, told members of the Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee in Cheyenne that he has concerns about the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. He also questioned federal promises to pick up most future expansion costs.

"In my mind, it was not political -- it was pragmatic," Mead said of his recommendation that the state shouldn't accept the federal government's offer to pick up the bulk of the cost of adding thousands more adults to Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

"Is this system going to work? Is this system a solution for Wyoming?" Mead said.

Democrats support Medicaid expansion, but the GOP leaders of the House and Senate say the Legislature will likely reject it when the issue is taken up as expected this session. On Monday, two Democrats raised their concerns with Mead about his proposal.

"There's a number of our veterans that are returning back from missions that would be covered under this expansion," Rep. Ken Esquibel, D-Cheyenne, told Mead.

And Sen. John Hastert, D-Green River, told Mead, "having some insurance for a period of time for some of these people would be better than having none at all."

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