Wyoming Governor Matt Mead released an Op-Ed on Friday containing his thoughts on the Affordable Care Act and the impact he believes it will have on Wyoming and the nation.

Health care is an area that generates much discussion, thoughtful debate and increasing concern. This is one of the reasons I wanted to engage the people of Wyoming with a series of town hall meetings. These meetings give citizens across the state a chance to discuss problems they experience with health care in their communities and what can be done to improve health care delivery.

“I oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One of my first actions as Governor was to instruct the Wyoming Attorney General to join the lawsuit seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments this spring and there may be a ruling as early as June 2012. I hope the Affordable Care Act will be declared unconstitutional.

“In the meantime, Wyoming cannot sit back and do nothing to tackle these issues. Wyoming people face real and significant problems ranging from the cost of care to limited services, from the inability to purchase insurance to difficulty in finding a doctor. These are not challenges we can leave unaddressed. We need to focus on primary care and consider state-driven solutions such as medical homes, and we must push for the best use of technology in health care delivery. Technology can improve both the availability and quality of care across the state.

“In my proposed budget for the next two years I recommended $250,000 in matching funds for the Wyoming Integrated Care Network, $100,000 for Wyoming Health Matters and $100,000 for the 2-1-1 networks. While the Joint Appropriations Committee did not approve all of my recommendations I believe these initiatives show signs of success and could be part of a health care solution that fits Wyoming’s needs and culture.

“Another health care option currently being explored is the concept of health benefit exchanges. Heath benefit exchanges are mandated by the Affordable Care Act, which I oppose. However, if the Affordable Care Act is not overturned–and if Wyoming does not take preliminary, nonbinding steps to keep options open, then Wyoming could be limited to a federally run health exchange. If an exchange is mandated I prefer to have a state-run exchange. I hope the public will provide feedback about this concept.

“As I noted, my staff is participating in town hall meetings across the state. These meetings (there will be seven in all) are designed to hear from Wyoming people about the hurdles they face in health care, their ideas on how to improve health care in Wyoming and finally their opinions on a health care exchange. Thank you to the people who have come out and participated and to the others who have taken time to write or call my office to offer input.

“I want to be crystal clear. I oppose the Affordable Care Act and have devoted both Wyoming’s talent and resources to fight the federal mandate. Wyoming will address health care on its own terms. If Wyoming is ever required by the federal government to enact an exchange, we will do so consistent with the views of Wyoming people. I am glad to hear from you and look forward to more discussion as together we tackle Wyoming health care issues with Wyoming ingenuity.”