The Montana legislature must make a decision concerning the expansion of Medicaid. If they say yes, Montana will receive $700 million over the next two years. If they say no, we get zilch.
Republican legislators in the House and Senate oppose the expansion, largely for ideological reasons. I understand this. Some of the people who would be eligible for this aid do not deserve it. I've met them, and so have you. Nonetheless, the citizens of Montana do deserve it. We have paid millions of dollars in federal taxes, and these can either return to Montana or go to support citizens in other states. Furthermore, as an article in The Billings Gazette of March 2 points out, the Medicaid patients "don't see the money. It's paid directly to hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and many others."
So it is not a support for the Medicaid patients, but for the givers of health care. And they do deserve it.
Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton, says "I don't know if I've seen anything that shows that it is (an economic benefit)." Does this really make sense?
According to the article, Montana hospitals will get $278 million, mental health providers $215 million, nursing homes $166 million and in-home care services for the disabled and elderly $107 million, physicians an estimated $61 million. That sounds like an economic benefit to me. It sounds like jobs for citizens of Montana.
So what is the argument against the Medicaid expansion? Zach Lahn, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Montana, says "I think at some point, you have to pay the piper."
Who is this piper? I don't know, but what I do know is that AFP is a private lobby representing two rich brothers from the state of Kansas. Perhaps they have the best interests of Montana at heart, but I can't help but be skeptical.
I urge members of the House and Senate to support the expansion of Medicaid. It isn't about ideology, it is about what is best for the citizens of Montana who you have been elected to represent.