Healthy Montana Kids Initiative at Risk Again

by jhwygirl

This one comes entirely from my good Democratic friend Joan Vetter Ehrenberg in the Flathead:

Here we go again, Republicans, now those in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, are cutting the funding for the Healthy Kids Initiative (CHIP) out of HB 2 and losing necessary matching federal funds that are a win/win for our budget and the funding formula for CHIP. The voters of Montana overwhelmingly approved extending health benefits for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to more than 30,000 additional children with the Healthy Kids Ballot Initiative.

Voters knew what they where voting for and have every right to have the initiative fully funded and access to federal matching funds, not a refusal or a watered down version of the program by Senate Republicans.

Now more than ever, there will be increased demand for children whose families are unable to afford health insurance. Please, make the time to call now and get involved. All of our expenses go up when 30,000 children in Montana don’t have health insurance. That’s why 70% of Montanan’s voted for the Healthy Kids Initiative.

Hold your Senator accountable by emailing them at http://leg.mt.gov/css/Default.asp or calling them at 406-444-4800 and ask them to vote yes for fully funding the Healthy Kids Initiative. Thank you.

Farmer, over at Left in the West has another take on the situation.

Republicans are a piece of work. They keep talking cuts-cuts-cuts, yet isn’t that what we got stimulus money for? To, in part, shore up the state’s budget so that necessary programs didn’t see drastic or damaging reductions?

Sen. David Wanzenried (D-Missoula) said people getting laid off or facing hard times are the people who need government help from the programs in the budget, and that money exists to maintain them at needed levels. “It seems to me we can be bold if we want to, and figure out how we’re going to do that.”

Sen. Carol Williams (D-Missoula) explains that the Senate Republicans may not have the votes needed to make the changes they are pushing for:

Williams said late Thursday that Senate Republicans have been working with Democrats and the Schweitzer administration to find some agreement on “the really touchy issues,” but hadn’t found common ground.

She also said she wasn’t sure whether Senate Republicans had enough votes on their own to make changes in the budget bill or pass it. Republicans hold an 11-8 majority on the Finance Committee and a 27-23 majority in the full Senate.

Democrats in the Senate might offer some votes for the budget bills, but not if it means cutting substantial funds out of education or the Healthy Montana Kids program, Williams said.

~~~~

To reach the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, contact Prudence Gilroy the secretary – pgilroy@mt.gov. Make sure to request that your comments be forwarded to the entire Senate Finance and Claims Committee. You can also call the legislative information desk and leave a message for the entire committee in one easy phone call to 406-444-4800.

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