From the Wyoming Tribune Eagle – January 10, 2014

Wyomingites rally for Medicaid expansion

By Becky Orr borr@wyomingnews.com

CHEYENNE — Expanding Wyoming’s Medicaid program is a just

Dee Speaking at Medicaid Expansion Rally

Dee Speaking at Medicaid Expansion Rally

action that would save lives and money, supporters said Thursday in a rally at the Wyoming State Capitol.
Upwards of 150 to 200 people who want more Wyoming residents to receive Medicaid services rallied at the Herschler Building Plaza during a blustery noon hour.
They wanted the Legislature’s Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee to know of public support for Medicaid expansion. The committee met inside the building and discussed expansion at the same time.
The Wyoming Association of Churches sponsored the event. It attracted people from various parts of the state, said the Rev. Rodger McDaniel, pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. He is vice chairman of the Wyoming Association of Churches.
Several speakers said that expansion boils down to a question of justice. Without it, 17,000 people in Wyoming would be left without opportunities for health insurance, McDaniel said.
States are allowed to opt out of expanding Medicaid programs because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
But 25 states and the District of Columbia have chosen to expand. Wyoming has held firm against it.
Gov. Matt Mead fears that the federal government could decide not to uphold a plan where it would cover most of the cost of expansion.
“The governor says he doesn’t want to expand because he doesn’t trust the government will pay its share,” McDaniel said. “At the same time, he submits a budget proposal to the Legislature that requires the feds to cough up $1.5 billion so that he can balance the budget.
“Never once in the history of this state has a governor or state Legislature said we won’t take federal money for highways or bridges because we don’t trust them to pay. We relied on them to pay and they have. They have never once reneged,” McDaniel said. “The idea that suddenly we don’t trust the federal government to pay is disingenuous.”
Many people at the rally carried signs covered with messages like “What equality?” “The equality state for the wealthy” and “Your hatred of Obama is funded by your citizens’ health.”
If Wyoming fails to expand Medicaid, it would cost the state almost $80 million over the next seven years to serve the mandatory Medicaid expansion population, McDaniel said.
If the state does expand Medicaid, the federal government would pick up the lion’s share of costs, he said. Wyoming would save almost $50 million over and above the $80 million that the mandatory expansion costs, McDaniel said.
“Partisan politics is threatening our most vulnerable,” the Rev. Dee Lundberg of the United Church of Christ in Casper said. “We find ourselves here today fighting for that which is just and right.”
Lundberg added that “our elected leaders are under the pressure of those who are concerned about being against the Affordable Care Act (so) that they cannot be for their own people.”
The 17,000close1 Thessalonians 1 Greeting 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. The Thessalonians' Faith and Example We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (ESV) close1 Thessalonians 1close1 Thessalonians 1 Greeting 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. The Thessalonians' Faith and Example We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (ESV) Greeting 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. The Thessalonians' Faith and Example We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (ESV) people by and large are working and trying desperately hard, she added. She urged people to write letters and call state lawmakers. “These people that are making decisions for us, they have, in many ways, sold out to the highest bidder. Let us let the voice of justice and compassion be the loudest voice they hear,” Lundberg said.
People throughout Wyoming suffer now because of a lack of adequate health care, said Carol Peterson, an ordained deacon at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Cheyenne.
The Rev. Karen O’Malia of Christ Lutheran Church in Cheyenne told of two teachers at her church preschool who need medical services but can’t afford it now.
“Where would our beloved former Vice President Dick Cheney be if he had not had health insurance? I don’t think those heart surgeries were free,” she said.
O’Malia challenged Mead and the state Legislature to stand with people who have no health care by forfeiting their own health care for the next year.
“Maybe then we will see a fair vote on this issue,” she said.
Vance Green, 59, of Cheyenne, was among those who watched the rally. He was laid off from his construction job and has no insurance. His wife works, but dropped her job’s insurance because premiums were too high. Green wants to keep politics out of health care. “You can’t put a price on a human life.”
Carolyn Matteson Pascal of Cheyenne told the crowd she is enraged as a taxpayer that expansion has not occurred. “There is nothing sensible about what’s being done in Wyoming. The human toll is incalculable,” she said.