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Governor's Update: Montanans' Healthcare At Risk

March 22, 2017View for printing

As Montanans, we stand up for our values every day and build our communities on what unites us--not divides us.

Working together with Republicans and Democrats we passed the HELP ACT, which expanded healthcare coverage to thousands of hard working Montanans through Medicaid.

We reduced the number of uninsured in our state from a staggering 20% in 2013 to 7% in 2016 and reduced uncompensated care by more than 25%. This was done all while saving Montana taxpayers more than $22 million.

Our continued progress at the state level depends largely on whether Congress proceeds thoughtfully and responsibly with efforts to improve or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Unfortunately, the bill Congress is considering now, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), would repeal Medicaid expansion funding, ripping Medicaid health coverage away from tens of thousands of Montanans. The bill is also projected to drive up health care costs by more than 30% for those with private insurance in Montana.

Repealing Medicaid expansion and driving up costs is a sucker-punch to rural states like Montana that we are not willing to take. This is a giant step backwards, both costly and harmful to hardworking Montanans.

More than half of our neighbors live in rural counties where it is already hard to find doctors or healthcare facilities. This is especially true when it comes to mental health and substance abuse treatment. Under Medicaid expansion, we are finally changing that.

My genuine hope is that Democrats and Republicans in Washington D.C. will work together to find thoughtful and innovative healthcare solutions that increase access and improve efficiencies.

A vote is scheduled to take place this week in the U.S. House of Representatives on the proposed AHCA. Because of the appointment of Secretary Ryan Zinke and the resulting vacancy, Montana will not have a vote on this bill.

I encourage you to contact Senator Jon Tester and Senator Steve Daines, to share with them your thoughts on healthcare in Montana.

I will continue to work with members of both parties to bring healthcare solutions to Montana. But, I know one thing is for certain: going backwards is not a viable solution.


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