Has the country finally reached sanity when it comes to Obamacare? Are the crazy politics and the irrational decision-making by red state lawmakers finally petering out? It's possible. Check out Wyoming.
Nearly 70 percent of its voters went for Mitt Romney in 2012. Out of 90 legislative seats, 78 are held by Republicans. A Republican governor. It also epitomizes the independent streak found in the West, defined by a deep distrust of the federal government.So in recent months, that makes Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and now Wyoming, all either beginning to relent or reversing course entirely on taking the expansion. A major factor in that is the success of the Arkansas privatized model of expansion, and the administration's willingness to consider and grant waivers for plans that governors can sell to Republican legislatures.
But even there, state officials are starting to open up to the idea of expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. The legislature requested earlier this year that Gov. Matt Mead (R) meet with the Obama administration to discuss the state's options. Mead's office told TPM that the governor met with staff from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the first time in July. Mead said recently that he would present expansion options to the legislature early next year.
There's also plenty of economic arguments, and heavy lobbying from hospitals—a traditionally influential force with local and state lawmakers. The expansion is great for hospitals, since it means they have to provide a lot less uncompensated care, and don't have to have their big billing departments constantly hounding the uninsured for payment. In fact,
Mead cited the hospital association's statistic on lost federal dollars when explaining the latest developments. The group, which is leading the lobbying coalition that is pushing for expansion in Wyoming, has been sending information to state legislators and current legislative candidates in the mail and meeting with select lawmakers.There's additionally a politically salient fairness argument: people paying federal taxes in red states are seeing their money provide health care to people in other states. Those are all arguments that can sway Republican lawmakers, that and the fact that opposition to Obamacare is losing more and more of its political potency as time passes. Which isn't to say diehard lawmakers in Tennessee or Wyoming, or any of the other states are going to change their minds soon. But they're wearing down.