Sunday, May 22, 2011

Republicans make up their own stats about Medicaid in Wyoming

Great article on the Equality State Policy Center blog by Barb Rea about the May 9-10 Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee meeting in Evanston.

Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, felt the need to add his personal interpretation to almost every piece of information presented. He painted Medicaid as a perennial problem in the state, and assured the committee that the new federal health care law, which he dismissively terms “Obamacare,” will be repealed or at least defunded. He also continues to portray his pet project, Healthy Frontiers, as a viable program which could be used to replace both Medicaid and the benefits offered in the new legislation.

First, one has to wonder why so many wacko Republican legislators come from Casper. Second, one has to wonder why Sen. Scott feels he has to bully other members of the committee. Third, why does Sen. Scott have such an unhealthy interest in the very flawed Health Frontiers program? Right, it’s his pet project and he is single-minded in pursuing that over any other alternative to rising health care costs and the stone-cold fact that thousands of Wyomingites are uninsured.

But Scott wasn’t the only one with a suspicious agenda.

The state’s new Director of the Department of Family Services, Steve Corsi, who made a stunning assertion that 30% to 40% of people who enroll in Medicaid in Wyoming, come dressed like he was (black suit and new haircut) and driving an Escalade, “and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Senator Scott let the committee’s disgust percolate until Wyoming’s Medicaid Director, Teri Green, was able to question the validity of Mr. Corsi’s numbers. Mr. Corsi later apologized for using an inflammatory example and a “guesstimate.”

Later we learned from another presenter, that nationally less than 10% of Medicaid payments are claimed fraudulently, and in Wyoming the figure is less than 6%. Moreover, research tells us most of the fraud by far (80%) is committed by providers (primarily medical-device and pharmaceutical companies). Less than 10% of the fraud is committed by patients.

Mr. Corsi’s hysterical assertions seem to be cut from the same cloth as the “Welfare Queens” of the 1980s, those mythical creatures who drove up to welfare offices in their Cadillacs to rake in the big welfare bucks. What nonsense. A director of a state agency should know better.

At this point, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that our family has benefited from the Wyoming Medicaid Children’s Waiver. This program fills in the insurance holes when your son or daughter needs long-term care for mental health diagnoses or drug and alcohol treatment.

Our daughter benefited from the tax-supported program on several occasions. I will have to note that she is now 18 and a healthy contributing member of society and is currently working and her taxes go to help other young people in Wyoming who have experience health care emergencies. She doesn’t seem to mind.

And I also have to admit that I had a new haircut the last time I filled out the paperwork for the Medicaid Waiver. I have always admired Mr. Corsi’s tonsorial discipline and thus was inspired to follow his example. I wasn’t wearing a black suit as I didn’t want to be mistaken for a bureaucratic blockhead (note to self: no name-calling) such as Mr. Corsi. And I left my Escalade at home. Mr. Corsi may be able to afford to Escalade on his director’s salary, but most of us state employees have to make do with four-year-old Fords and Chevy compacts.

UPDATE: AT last night's Laramie County Democratic Party meeting, I learned that Mr. Corsi was referring specifically to the state's S-CHIP program in his good haircut/dark suit/Escalade remarks. Our family has never been involved in the S-CHIP program. A good thing, considering my lack of attention to hair, clothes and gas-guzzling personal mobility devices.

Read the entire Equality State Policy Center post at

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