Medicaid bill: ‘Do not pass’

Print Article

HELENA — A Republican-led committee voted to send a “do not pass” recommendation to the full House on the governor’s Medicaid expansion proposal known as the “Healthy Montana Plan.”

The House Human Services Committee allowed nearly three hours of testimony in favor of House Bill 249, which would expand Medicaid to about 70,000 low-income Montanans, and the session lasted more than six hours altogether.

Many of the hundreds of supporters spoke for and about a dozen people spoke against before the committee took its vote over the objection of Democrats on the panel. The “do not pass” recommendation means it would take 60 votes from the full House to override and allow action on the bill on the floor.

Bullock, who has been pushing the proposal since 2013, has said Montana must make health insurance available for those who struggle to make ends meet.

Tara Veazey, health policy advisor to Bullock, said during the marathon hearing that the health and lives of some Montanans hung in the balance.

“It’s rare in this building that moral policy, fiscal and economic imperatives all align,” Veazey said. “This is one such instance.”

Bullock’s office estimates that about 70,000 people fall into a coverage gap in which they don’t currently qualify for Medicaid or for subsidies to help them pay for coverage on the federal health care exchange.

Holly Bouch now falls into the gap after losing her job and health insurance in September. She’s been diagnosed with a chronic lung disorder that spread and attacked her kidneys and liver. After she lost her insurance, she also lost her place on the kidney transplant waiting list.

“Medicaid would allow me to get back on the transplant list and could afford my medication and be able to see my doctors on a more frequent basis,” Bouch said. “Medicaid expansion would give me a shot at a normal, healthy life.”

Mark Semmens, managing director of investment banking for D.A. Davidson Co. in Great Falls, said as someone who has spent 30 years immersed in business, finance and economic issues that lawmakers need to look beyond ideology and at the numbers.

Semmens said the expansion would bring an estimated $5 billion of new revenue into Montana over the next six years and create 12,000 jobs.

The federal government will fully fund the expansion until 2020, after which states will be responsible for 10 percent of the costs. The expansion is projected to save the state of Montana $80 million in the four years leading up to that cost sharing.

Spoeaking in opposition, John Quandt, executive director of Americans for Prosperity Montana, said, “Government health care is not the solution on any level.”

The Daily Inter Lake contributed to this story.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Kalispell seeks assistance in retaining forest access

February 17, 2020 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Kalispell City Council is endeavoring to secure assistance from state and federal officials to maintain access to the forestlands Weyerhaeuser is selling off around Kalispell. At the City Council...

Comments

Read More

Whitefish council considers changes to utility rules, fees

February 17, 2020 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Whitefish City Council will consider updating the city’s rules and regulations and revising fees for water, sewer and garbage utilities at its meeting on Tuesday. According to a staff report b...

Comments

Read More

Bigfork blaze destroys Eagle Bend clubhouse

February 16, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Daily Inter Lake A fire destroyed the clubhouse at Eagle Bend Golf Club early Sunday morning in Bigfork. No one was injured in the fire. Bigfork Fire Department Chief Mark Thiry said the call came in at 2 a.m. when...

Comments

Read More

Couple opens Bigfork’s first pet supply store

February 16, 2020 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Julie and Steve Johannes quietly opened the first pet store in Bigfork two weeks ago. “There’s not a lot of places doing what we’re doing,” Julie said. What they’re doing at Powder Hounds in the Bra...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2020 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X