One year after rejecting federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) is pushing the state’s Republican legislature to approve a new plan set forth by the state Department of Health last week.
During a press conference Monday, Mead, who signed onto a federal lawsuit opposing the Affordable Care Act in 2011, urged Republican lawmakers to "be realistic" and accept Obamacare as the "law of the land."
"I agree it is not a good piece of legislation, but as I see where we are, I think we have to be realistic and say, 'This is the current law of the land and we need to either go forward with this' or if the Legislature wants to come up with a different plan, I certainly would be open to that," Mead said, according to the Casper Star-Tribune. "But I don’t think we can say to those people in Wyoming who are working who cannot get insurance that we’re not going to do anything."
To expand Medicaid, Mead's proposal seeks a federal waiver that will allow the state to charge low-income participants who make 101 to 138 percent of the federal poverty level -- that’s $11,670 to $16,105 annually for a single person -- co-payments and a monthly premium. Those earning below 101 percent of the poverty level would not pay premiums but could be responsible for certain co-payments. However, the ACA's Medicaid provisions guarantee coverage for eligible low-income residents without cost-sharing, so the Obama administration would have to approve Wyoming's modified Medicaid expansion.
The plan would also have to clear the state legislature, which has rejected several Medicaid-related bills in the past year alone.
According to the Wyoming Department of Health, the Strategy for Health, Access, Responsibility and Employment -- or SHARE plan -- would grant health care access to an estimated 17,600 low-income residents. Two-thirds of them fall in the coverage gap, meaning they are ineligible for both Medicaid and federal tax subsidies through the federal health care marketplace.
If Mead’s proposal is approved, he would become the 10th GOP governor to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Several other Republican-led states, including Indiana, Tennessee and Utah, have considered similar options but have yet to advance legislation to address the issue. To date, 27 states and the District of Columbia have opted to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.