CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Gov. Matt Mead announced Thursday that Wyoming won’t meet a pending deadline under the federal health care reform law to specify whether the state intends to establish a health insurance exchange — an online marketplace that would offer the public one-stop shopping for health insurance.
Mead told reporters at his regularly scheduled press conference that Wyoming can’t decide the issue because he has yet to hear any response to a series of questions about the law he submitted to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in mid-July.
Among the questions Mead asked Sebelius was how long the federal government was committed to provide funding for the exchange. “If the federally facilitated exchange is not financially self-sustaining, what happens then?” he wrote.
“There are questions to be answered,” Mead said Thursday. “And we haven’t got answers to those questions. So if and until we get answers to those questions, I don’t think it’s reasonable for the federal government to say we’ve got to make very big decisions that can impact our state budget and impact the quality of our health delivery system in Wyoming.”
The Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) gives Wyoming and other states three possible choices on the insurance exchange issue: set up their own exchange, partner with other states, or let the federal government set up an exchange.
While the federal law gives states until January to specify how they will address the exchange issue, Mead said Wyoming likely won’t make a decision until after the Legislature adjourns next year, likely in early March.
Mead, a longtime opponent of PPACA, has said he’s worried about the cost of increasing enrollment in the Medicaid program. Wyoming already has budgeted more than $500 million to cover its share of the Medicaid program in the two-year budget cycle that started in July. The federal government roughly matches that amount in the state to fund the program that provides health care for the poor.