Governor Matt Mead says Wyoming needs more information from the federal government to make decisions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Governor Mead opposed that law and joined in the lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. The Supreme Court upheld most of the law in its decision at the end of June.
Since that decision Governor Mead and his fellow Republican Governors posed a series of questions to the President and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Now Governor Mead is following up with his own letter to Secretary Sebelius.
"I have a responsibility to make what I believe are the best possible decisions in regards to health care for our citizens," Governor Mead wrote. "I have grave concerns about the financial impact of expanding Medicaid. Without additional information, the PPACA and the Medicaid expansion appear to only add to the unsustainable federal debt while taking away states' prerogative to make the best decisions for our citizens."
Governor Mead also wrote that there are important concerns specific to Wyoming. "As a rural frontier state, Wyoming has a health care delivery system and insurance markets with some distinctive challenges to overcome." He points out that HHS often calls Delaware and Rhode Island small states and that those states have distinctive issues in regards to implementing the PPACA. "Wyoming has half the population of Delaware and Rhode Island spread out over many times the geographic areas."
Governor Mead notes that the Obama administration is asking for states to tell them their plans for health insurance exchanges by November 16, 2012. He wrote that ahead of that deadline he is asking for a response, "In order to arrive at an informed decision, Wyoming needs more information."
In addition to posing questions, Governor Mead also provided the results of existing studies which show there are concerns that the PPACA might not have the impacts the Obama administration desired. "We have studies that indicate implementation of the PPACA is likely to be detrimental to our private health insurance markets. An actuarial study of small group and individual markets conducted by Gorman Actuarial, LLC in 2011 projects that premiums can be expected to go up an average of 30% to 40% in the individual market due solely to new insurance regulations effective in 2014."
Another concern Governor Mead expresses in his letter involves small business owners. "Wyoming has a higher percentage of very small employers that self-insure than other states. It is not unreasonable to project a number of small employers will stop providing insurance coverage and move their employees to the individual market or self-insure to avoid regulation. During recent town hall meetings, a number of small employers indicated that it would be cheaper for them to pay the PPACA penalties for not providing coverage than it will be to continue to provide coverage."
Governor Mead also invited Secretary Sebelius to visit Wyoming and see firsthand the state's challenges and our efforts to improve healthcare.