Medicaid expansion is simply the extension of health insurance at no or very low cost for the working poor, with the majority of the cost born by the federal government. I have been an advocate and voted for the passage of Medicaid expansion since my last term in the legislature. There are many of our family, friends, and neighbors that work hard every day at low paying jobs that cannot access health insurance.
The Montana version of Medicaid Expansion has requirements for work and skin in the game to make even small payments if at all possible. The executive branch of Montana has not done a very good job at enforcing rigorous eligibility standards that are included in the law. My opponent has written that because there are some who take advantage of this we should eliminate the program for everyone. I will fight to get the program right for our low income neighbors as well as the taxpayer instead of sacrificing the help we can provide for those in need.
The US Congress created this situation. They have also created the option of Medicaid expansion, and pay for most of the cost. We have a choice to refuse this offer and not insure our working poor while putting our rural hospitals at risk. Or we can accept what is offered, add requirements to make it better, improve the administration of the program, and offer health insurance to those who are working but still below poverty.
It is not leadership to refuse to make a decision when you don’t like the choices. Montana has too many rural communities with very small hospitals. Providing expensive emergency charity care has led similar hospitals closing their doors to all in other rural states that have rejected Medicaid expansion. I want to be able to travel this great state and know that my family and I can receive emergency care in our small towns. I want our older generation to be able to live near their children and grandchildren because the local hospital still has it’s doors open in case medical care is urgently needed.