Guns, Mental Health, And Medicaid

by lizard

Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn has helped the gun control side of the gun debate by saying this in a video released this week:

America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?

Closing loopholes and strengthening background checks makes sense, and in some form will probably get passed. An incredible amount of political pressure has kept lawmakers focused on this issue, especially from victims who have lost loved ones from atrocities like Newtown.

Part of this discussion has included the need to increase access to mental health services. Here in Montana, that would mean passing medicaid expansion, something most state Republicans are still against:

In a dramatic turn of events Tuesday, a coalition of Senate Democrats and five Republicans resurrected and then narrowly endorsed a bill to expand Medicaid in Montana — but GOP senators supporting the move said they’re not for expansion.

Instead, they said they’re looking for a “Montana-made solution” to extend more affordable health coverage to the poor. The Medicaid expansion bill needs to stay alive as a possible vehicle for that solution, they said.

That legislative action—where 5 rational Republicans acted honorably to keep the chance to help 70,000 Montanans get access to health care alive—happened April 2nd, before all the drama last Friday.

That drama has been resolved, though in a manner that is understandably upsetting state Democrats:

Senate leaders said Wednesday that they reached a deal aimed at ending the acrimony stemming from the Republican majority’s decision to vote on bills despite Democrats’ attempts to halt the proceedings.

The two sides have been stewing since last Friday when the fight over parliamentary maneuvering stalled the Legislature for hours.

The standoff started with a missing senator that Democrats intended to use to invoke a rare move demanding every member is present before voting. The move could have killed GOP priority bills facing a procedural deadline. It culminated in a rowdy Senate floor session where Senate President Jeff Essmann ignored Democrats as they shouted and pounded on desks in an attempt to be recognized.

Afterward, Republicans alleged Democrats orchestrated the senator’s absence. Democrats complained the Republicans broke the rules by ignoring their motion and going on with the session.

Essmann said he has agreed to drop subpoenas investigating whether Democrats broke decorum rules. He and Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso met for two hours a day earlier to sort out differences.

Democrats agreed to work the Republicans on legislation to overhaul the political practices office.

That measure, Senate Bill 387 from Sen. Debby Barrett, establishes a commission over the office and attempts to modify the way the commissioner is selected and improve the way campaign finance and other complaints are selected.

Essmann read a letter to the full Senate, which was also signed by Sesso, that focused on the actions of the Democrats.

“The minority acknowledges its role in the disruption of the decorum of the Senate … and I have been assured by Sen. Sesso that this will not happen again.”

Both sides agreed to drop the practice of pounding on desks to gain recognition and to limit disruptions.

The letter does not address grievances from Democrats that Essmann violated rules and the Montana Constitution, an allegation that argues the disputed GOP bills were illegally passed. Democrats have threatened the matter could end up in courts.

Jeff Essman is a despicable little weasel, that may be true, and this resolution is incredibly one-sided, also true, but like I’ve said, challenging Essman’s bullying disregard of rules in court probably won’t play well with average Montanans, especially when there is lots of work that still needs to get done.

Access to health care includes mental health services. Montana desperately needs to find a way to expand that access, and state legislators can provide that expansion for 70,000 people in this state. Hell, even Rick Scott finally saw the light and came out in support of medicaid expansion for Floridians.

We desperately need medicaid expansion to happen in Montana, so get to work in Helena, folks, because Montanans are depending on you to put aside the partisan drama in order to do what’s right for our state.

  1. Big Swede

    If only we had the background checks that Al Qadea has.

  2. More “wag the dog” to preempt any recollection of what happened to the really important issues facing the legislature. Neither party articulated a particularly coherent message or strategy during, or since, the 2012 election. The legislative session reflects that lack of clarity.

  3. jack ruby

    Most likely I’d presume any legal challenge against essman will come after this session has ended so you can rest easy it should not interfere with all of the hard work they are doing over the next few weeks.

  4. Big Swede

    Sign the petition.

  5. lizard19

    oh Jesus, Republicans are “scrambling

    HELENA – Some legislative Republicans and others are scrambling to come up with an alternative to Medicaid expansion, instead using public funds to help uninsured, low-income Montanans buy private health insurance.

    Yet with just 14 working days remaining until the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn, those working on the proposals say time is getting short.

    “Each day that goes by makes it more likely that it won’t succeed, because of procedural problems,” said Sen. Dave Wanzenried, D-Missoula, a sponsor of a Medicaid-expansion bill.

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