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Five Reasons Wyoming Shouldn’t Expand Medicaid

The Wyoming State Legislature is slated to consider Medicaid expansion yet again this session. But before policymakers get too far down the road toward embracing the new welfare program, here are five quick reasons to give lawmakers pause:

1. The truly needy already receive government-funded coverage.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) were designed to provide health coverage to the truly needy, and as of 2021, more than 65,000 Wyomingites were enrolled in these programs. Those already covered by Medicaid include low-income individuals with disabilities, low-income senior citizens, and very low-income families with children, including very low-income pregnant women. Medicaid expansion would open up these programs to include any adult, even the able-bodied, with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

2. Low-income Wyomingites will lose superior private coverage.

It’s been estimated that 63 percent of Wyomingites who would become eligible under Medicaid expansion already have private health insurance. And many of those individuals already receive government subsidies to purchase their private plans. If Wyoming expands Medicaid, newly eligible individuals will no longer qualify to receive subsidies, and will instead be pushed to enroll in Medicaid.

3. Medicaid expansion hurts hospitals.

Forty percent of expansion states saw hospital jobs losses during the first year of Medicaid expansion, and hospitals continue to close in expansion states. For everyone moving from private insurance to Medicaid in Wyoming, providers will see their reimbursement rate decrease significantly. It can be difficult to find providers who will accept Medicaid under normal circumstances, but moving thousands more individuals onto the program, especially those who already have private coverage, will further exacerbate this problem for both patients and providers.

4. Medicaid expansion will weaken Wyoming’s economic advantage.

Already, total Medicaid spending has doubled since 2000, and nearly one out of every three dollars state governments spend goes toward Medicaid. States that have expanded Medicaid have seen their Medicaid enrollment skyrocket, enrolling twice as many able-bodied adults as was expected and leading to per-person costs that are 64 percent above estimates. These states are unable to adequately invest in other priorities, but Wyoming still has flexibility in their state budget. This competitive advantage, however, would be lost if Wyoming expands Medicaid. An estimated 52,000 able-bodied adults would be eligible to enroll in Wyoming’s Medicaid program if the state were to expand, costing taxpayers more than $3 billion over 10 years. Barring massive tax hikes, Wyoming would become just as strapped for cash as expansion states.

5. There are better ways to expand coverage.

Wyoming does not need to embrace Medicaid expansion with all its flaws to increase access to affordable health care. Policymakers can adopt state-based reforms right now to increase coverage options and reduce costs. Reforms as simple as expanding access to both health sharing plans and association health plans will allow more individuals to find the coverage they need, while reforms to increase hospital price transparency and allow out-of-network costs to count toward deductibles will help control costs.

Medicaid expansion isn’t a solution—it’s a big problem.

And it’s a problem Wyomingites don’t need. Policymakers should reject any effort to expand Medicaid and focus on reforms to improve access to affordable health care instead.

At FGA, we don’t just talk about changing policy—we make it happen.

By partnering with FGA through a gift, you can create more policy change that returns America to a country where entrepreneurship thrives, personal responsibility is rewarded, and paychecks replace welfare checks.