Medicare Expansion Under Obamacare to Cost Wyoming $50 Million by 2023, Sen. Enzi Says

By Lambert Mbom | March 7, 2011 | 4:50pm EST

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) says a recently released joint House-Senate report of a study commissioned by two congressional committees predicts that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- will cost his home state of Wyoming $50 million for Medicaid expansion between 2014 and 2019.

The study, “Medicaid Expansion in the New Health Law: Costs to the States,” predicts the law will cost U.S. taxpayers at least $118 billion by 2023. 

“This figure doubles the Congressional Budget Office’s recent estimate of the taxpayer burden befalling states due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Enzi said.

According to the report: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) originally estimated new state spending on Medicaid at $20 billion between 2017 and 2019, and an independent report from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured found that new state spending would be even higher at $43.2 billion through 2019. More recently, CBO has estimated a $60 billion cost to the states through 2021.”

Wyoming’s share is an estimated $50 million between 2014 and 2019, the senator noted.

“States, unlike the federal government, can’t print money,” Enzi said. “Wyoming takes balancing its budget very seriously and this would drop a grenade on the carefully put together plans of Wyoming’s governor and the state Legislature. This is yet another unintended consequence of the heath care law and another reason Congress needs to pass a health care bill that will actually help bring health care costs down for states and patients,”

In his Jan. 12 State of the State address, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, informed his state that he had taken steps to join the Florida lawsuit challenging the health-care law.

“I do not like the Act -- in my view it is bad policy and too costly. This law will significantly increase our Medicaid rolls,” the governor added.

Mead noted that the federal government can't be counted on to pay the bulk of the cost associated with the Medicaid expansion, even though it is committed to do so.

“(T)he last I checked the federal government has significant financial problems," the governor said. “On top of that, the federal promise does not cover all the additional expenses.”

The study, which was conducted at the request of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee, concluded that ObamaCare does not guarantee the fiscal sustainability of the Medicaid program.

Rather it constitutes “the largest expansion of the entitlement program since its inception in 1965,” the report said. In fact, half of the individuals gaining heath care coverage under the new health law will obtain it through the government’s Medicaid program.

“The massive increases in new federal spending under the health care law did not include the new Medicaid state spending mandates; and American taxpayers are still discovering the extent of PPACA’s costs,” the report stated.

“In 2017, state governments will be forced to spend new money on expanded Medicaid populations, and by 2020, the states will shoulder these new costs fully,” the report further states.”

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