AS Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin considers adding 150,000 to the Medicaid program under Obama-care, the governor should heed the words of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who helped write that law.
"I just see a huge train wreck coming down,"
Baucus said at a Senate hearing. His concern apparently centers on whether the federal governments can set up health insurance exchanges in time.
But lawmakers in his state voted narrowly not to commit to expansion of the Medicaid program either, even though the federal government will cover all costs for the first three years.
Tomblin commissioned an $860,000 study of the
impact of Obamacare on the state, but the company has not yet finished its assessment of expanding Medicaid coverage, which now covers 420,000 West Virginians.
Expanding Medicaid means state taxpayers would eventually have to help pay to provide Medicaid coverage for 570,000 people or nearly a-third of the state's population. That's in addition to funding schools,
prisons, highways and other state obligations.
That is a huge burden for the second-poorest set of taxpayers in the nation.
Tomblin is in a tight spot. Members of his party in Washington wrote the "Affordable Care Act." But Tomblin has to know how affordable that will be.
In his nearly four decades as a legislator and now as the state's chief, Tomblin has exhibited caution, courage and fiscal prudence.
Never before has the state needed it more.