Medicaid Failure in Montana: How We Got Here
by William Skink
Sure, the Republicans who want to keep punishing poor people by denying Medicaid expansion are craven, hypocritical partisans, especially if one looks at what happened in Helena on Friday through a Democrat partisan lens, which is all the author of that post is capable of. Luckily I don’t have that affliction and am therefore able to add a little bit more context to how we got to this point in Montana.
Two years ago there was a very good chance of getting Medicaid expanded in Montana. What happened? Freshman Democrat legislator, Tom Jacobson, pushed the wrong button:
Some states have declined to expand Medicaid because they oppose Obamacare. Others worry about the financial burden of expanding the entitlement. But there appears to be only one state where the Medicaid expansion failed due to a Democratic legislator accidentally voting against it.
“We’re tremendously sorry about what happened,” Minority Leader Chuck Hunter, a Democrat, said of the mistaken vote. “Montanans are the losers in this outcome.”
The mistake sent the bill back to committee to die. It was terrible. And trying to change the mistake wasn’t possible because the provision of addressing mistakes like this could only be used in situations where the change wouldn’t effect the outcome of legislation. In this case it would have, so the wrong vote stood.
After this embarrassing debacle I hoped Montana Democrats would regroup and speak with a unified voice about the dire need of 70,000 Montanans. That hope quickly dissipated when it became clear that Medicaid expansion was going to be a political football used by the Bohlinger campaign.
While Democrats were busy bickering among themselves, Montana AG, Tim Fox, successfully stalled the signature gathering for the Healthy Montana Initiative.
Then, in 2014, Democrats got their asses handed to them and now here we are. The result? Montanans will continue to suffer, hospital expenses will continue to balloon (the cost of which is passed along to all of us) and over 10,000 jobs WON’T be created.
Most of the blame should be directed at the Republican ideologues who never miss a chance to bash poor people in our state. I despise them more than words can effectively convey.
But I’m not a partisan hack, so I extend my disdain to Montana Democrats, who can’t seem to get their shit together to alleviate the suffering of 70,000 Montanans.
This is a sad situation for Montana. Those on the ground of the class war don’t have the luxury of political posturing. We desperately need Medicaid dollars. Placing blame solely on Republicans may serve political purposes for Democrats, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of how we got here.