Hello. I am Roxie Hensley. I am a lifelong Wyoming resident, small business owner, lawyer, child’s advocate, volunteer, mother, and active community member. I have an endowed passion for my community and focus on helping others. Throughout my many years supporting my communities I have sat on numerous boards including the CC United Way, CC Tourism Board, Chamber Commerce, Laramie Booster Club, and Wyoming Multiple Sclerosis Society. With over 25 years of active engagement in communities across Wyoming, I bring practical work experience, the passion of a volunteer, a unique perspective and set of qualifications to this position.
The pandemic is by all accounts a temporary challenge and prospects of viable vaccines appear promising in near term. The economic crisis in Wyoming due in part to reaction’s to pandemic but also to multiple shocks to energy sector will certainly have longer term consequences to State and its agencies. It will be imperative that WDHFS re-direct its focus within its current budget to those most vulnerable and in need. Other programs with lower priority may have to be scaled back to allow available funding to be used where it’s needed most in unprecedented times.
I would consider supporting any revenue-enhancing legislation that does NOT increase the tax burden on individuals or small businesses. The path to a healthy economy runs directly down Main Street and the incomes of the private citizens who participate in the Main Street economy. A robust private sector can support public spending but a tax increase would only add to the heavy burden that small business already bears and a tax on individuals would divert funds otherwise flowing through the economy.
I don’t believe an expansion of Medicaid is possible in light of current budget crisis. I believe a better model to provide health insurance to the working poor would be to provide direct subsidies or tax incentives to their respective employers to encourage private insurance for low-income workers. The Medicare system and Medicaid in particular has been plagued with inefficiencies since its inception and I believe a state-run program could avoid many of those issues. Another alternative to consider is Utah waiver plan that uses Medicaid funds to pay for employer-sponsored insurance.
I am an expert in the American legal system from a working-class family. I am completing my Ph.D. at UW, where I have been an educator and research scientist in psychology and law since 2014. I dedicated my life to studying the legal system and its flaws to advocate for a more just system. This dedication is also why I have advocated for transparency and accountability of local officials as the co-founder and executive director of Albany County for Proper Policing.
Given that state lawmakers have adamantly cut programs that protect our vulnerable populations rather than coming to grips with reality, the only real immediate protections are in our communities. The task of protecting our community members will fall on non-profits, healthcare providers, educators, and neighbors, so we must support those people in their roles the best we can by donating or volunteering with programs that serve our community like The Downtown Clinic, Family Promise, Interfaith, and more. When lawmakers fail us, like they are right now, communities will be the saving grace.
The budget crisis we’re in cannot be solved by cutting our way out – we have to raise revenue. I will support legislation that will raise revenues without putting the burden on Wyoming’s working-class and poor. Wyoming should make major corporations and wealthy people pay their fair share instead of leeching off the mineral industry. I will also support any legislation that supports renewable energy production and legalizes cannabis so that our state can create jobs, raise revenues, and ease the burden we have placed on critical public services and infrastructure.
In 2015, my mom was diagnosed with stage four cancer and my appendix burst. My mom survived, but she would have died if she lived in Wyoming. In Colorado, where they have expanded Medicaid, she has health insurance—in Wyoming this would not have been the case. It also helped that she could access medical cannabis. And my appendix – it cost $60,000 and I couldn’t pay for it – but someone did when the hospital passed the cost onto other patients through inflated medical bills. I support Medicaid expansion because it saves lives, brings down healthcare costs, and supports rural hospitals.