Breaking at the Capitol: Representative Wittich Holds Health Care for 70,000 Hostage

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It seems we may just need the Montana Home Guard after all, as there appears to be a hostage situation developing at the Montana Capitol. Despite it being the most important and contentious issue for the 2015 session, despite the bill having been introduced almost three weeks ago, and despite the fact that 70,000 Montanans need access to health care it would provide, Representative Wittich, chair of the House Human Services Committee, has been holding Governor Bullock’s Medicaid Expansion (HB 249) hostage since January 19. Wittich has not scheduled a hearing for the bill, although unconfirmed rumors are circulating that he cut a part off of the bill and sent it back the Governor’s Office with a ransom note.

It’s not as if Wittich’s Committee has been pressed for time. They’ve had time to spend two hours debating the sale of unpasteurized milk, a poorly researched assault on welfare recipients mandating drug testing,  and TEA Party grandstanding about battling the scourge of Obamacare. Wittich’s committee had also had sufficient time to let three disgruntled aid workers air third-hand allegations about those living in poverty and urban legends about welfare cheats owning boats and driving luxury vehicles.

Wittich has even had the time to post alternatingly sad and angry rants on Twitter like this statesmanlike remark about Governor Bullock:

And it’s not as if there’s reasonable justification for holding up debate on the bill. Its fiscal note was printed and made available on January 27, and both House and Senate committees have seen fit to schedule and even debate others bills still awaiting fiscal details. Montanans have been debating the practical and political merits of Medicaid expansion for years, so it’s time to let Montanans debate the merits of this proposal. It would seem that not scheduling public comment and debate on a bill reveals the weakness of Wittich’s argument: he knows that the business and health benefits of the bill vastly outweigh his ideological, partisan objections. The longer the bill lingers in committee, the more difficult its passage will be.

Given the surfeit of time available to Wittich’s committee for less serious matters and the availability of all the information necessary to debate Medicaid expansion,there’s no real explanation for the absence of the bill on the committee’s docket, other than Wittich’s refusal to have it be heard in a timely fashion.

Mr. Wittich, bring forth that bill. Surely such a champion of representative democracy knows that an open hearing on this most critical issue is what the traditions of the People’s House demands.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

10 Comments

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  • Art wittich, takes his cue from the Salem Witch burnings. Lets also point out that he has signed with Americans for prosperity to deny health care for Thousands of Montanans. Anyone who dies on his watch. he should be solely responsible for!!! Why isn’t this guy in Jail yet!!!!

    WHY???????

    And doctors Craig? Our premier doctor in Dillon Dr. Loge helped break up ATP attempt to shame Jeff Welborn because he refused to sign the pledge that Wittach signed

    I lead the walkout and was more than game to do more….. ATP and people like you are the worst liars in the world.

    Heres one lie they tried to pass at the anti ACA town hall: “Obamas health care law takes care of only the criminal element in montana where 65 percent of people needing healthcare are single adults with no children and a criminal Background”

    65% of Montanans needing healthcare are criminals, said the florida spokeswoman from Florida.

    What the “F!!!!”

    The little ( mis)informational BS townhall of AFP was shut down in one of the reddest places in Montana . Both Republicans and Democrats were glad to do it.

    ACA aka Obamacare is one of the best things that has happened to our rural area of Montana. the people who are on it now here are very happy about it.

  • WITTICH JUST KILLED HB249 WITH ENGINEERED DO NOT PASS AFTER HUNDREDS OF PROPONENTS, MARATHON HEARING AND ONLY TWELVE OPPONENTS, only one was a ,doctor, 2 were AFP KOCH PIMPS. IT WAS ALL A SHAM BY WITTICH AND SMUG GOP FACES ALL AROUND. DISGUSTING. DOZENS OF DOCTORS, NURSES, WERE IN RANKS OF PROPONENTS. WHAT A FARCE BY WITTICH WHO TWISTED THE KNIFE.

  • Seems like syndicated media once again covering up,
    cruelty of public oppressors,
    means & ends, of their handlers.

    Bob Williams

    • Bob, you might like this. It’s a song for all the inbreds in the Lege, like Panderin’ Randy Panucci, “Ol’ Pee Cup”, and ms. fiddler, wendy McCrazy (AF wife and fundiwackmentalist), Bob Burntnutts, wacko Mormon, fred thomass, fart twittich, jeff assman, and the entire inbred delegation! Oh sure, they won’t like it, and that’s just too bad. The TRVTH kinda sucks if’n you’re an inbred.
      THIS is my heritage, country gospel music at it’s finest! Hell, I grew up on this stuff. I still play it from time to time. Merle is the best at this old Woody Guthrie song. Funny thing is though, I never remember Jesus even ONCE saying that poor people should pee in a cup!

  • Considering the kind of “which side of the watershed are you on”, of the last line Merle leaves us with . . .

    a personal self-awareness!

    For me, after a while I was more thankful for a Real Pope. And the satirical humor Jon Stewart helps us experience!

    Later yet, thankful for people movements, like to reduce incentivising militant cruelty.

    Think it over!

    Why frame this as: Right wing Republicans versus Bullock.

    Looks more like syndicated thinking right wing thinkers,
    DESIRING TO BE CRUEL TO PEOPLE IN MONTANA!

    Some of ’em well damn well enjoying the experience of oppression.

    Puts whole new perspective on such as: ‘right thinking leads to right actions.’

    Bob Williams

  • Thanks LK, Woody and Merle speak and sing TRUTH TO POWER. As for ‘pee cup’, that’s another ALEC bill from the heart of darkness and championed
    by teabaggers who offered NO proof of violations, just conjecture and
    rhetorical rants.

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