Bob Story’s Pathetic Defense Of Not Funding CHIP

Senate President Bob Story is peddling the same old spin to try to explain why Republicans in the Legislature refuse to respect the will of the voters and fund expansion of the state’s CHIP program:

Given the recent economic meltdown, I believe voters understand that it’s not responsible to begin a brand-new expensive program at this time. We are hard pressed to fund many of the current programs our citizens have depended on for years.

This isn’t a new strategy. In fact, it’s exactly what Republicans said before the initiative’s passage, in an attempt to scare voters into voting against the proposal.  The first line of the 2008 Voter Information Packet made exactly the same claim:

During these unstable economic times, a large increase in the CHIP program is not fiscally responsible.

Memo to Senator Story: Montana voters overwhelmingly rejected your argument in November. Repackaging it now doesn’t change the fact that Montana voters think a responsible society should prioritize children’s health more than business tax cuts.

Senator Story didn’t stop at presenting an old argument as something new, though. He decided that his argument needed a straw person, as well:

Where do the Democrats propose to find an additional $35 million to fund the expanded CHIP program? Do we take it from our funding for nursing homes? From schools? From programs for the disabled?

It’s certainly possible that I missed the press release on the Rounda Report, but when did Republicans start supporting spending on any of these social services? If the Republicans in the Legislature had their way, we’d be making profound cuts in health insurance, education, and programs for the disabled.

Do the right thing, Senator Story. Respect the will of the voters and the health of Montana’s children.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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.


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  • Isn’t it an issue of prioritizing more than funding? After all, budgeting involves making choices with limited means. In order of significance, what are the top 10 budget priorities, how much is left over after fully funding those priorities, and what falls off the list?

  • Pogie, another thought. You write, “Do the right thing, Senator Story. Respect the will of the voters and the health of Montana’s children.”

    What is the right context to call a person a ‘child’ for health insurance purposes?

    Perhaps if the label were changed to something more descriptive and remove the term ‘children.’ Should people over the age of 18 and up to 25 deserve the same emotive sympathetic position as grade schoolers by being cast as ‘children?’ Instead of a ‘C’ replace it with an age spread like 0-25 or 0-19 HIP.

  • Montana voters knew what the bill entailed when the voted for it. The Voters Guide was quite informative. All of these arguments were heard, and then rejected, by Montana voters.

    Who do you imagine currently pays for a 24 year old with a serious illness and no insurance? Does the current system make economic sense to you?

  • Pogie, I like your blog and your issues. Good job!

    As to the topic and your 2 questions: First, the 24year old, that depends. Assuming access to financial means, I would suppose that person would pay. As to having no money, then the rest of us healthcare users when the costs are spread over the paying base pick up the tab. As to your second question, I was thinking about it today as I went on a long hike. I think the question can be limited to just ask, “Does the current system make sense?” That reminds me of this observation:

    “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”
    ~ Winston Churchill

    I guess the answer depends on the comparison of many factors and the point of reference of the evaluator.

    As to reading voter guides and LISTENING to the arguments, sadly many don’t… which brings me back to my point about making ballot descritions more factual and less emotional. There is nothing to lose in making such matters easier to understand. WE are all someone’s child, even if we are a 100 years old.

    As to the funding/budget issue I addressed in my first comment, I think govts would best serve the governed if the followed something like Bjørn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus process. See:

  • I’m certainly not willing to concede that the people in the Legislature are more rational or less emotional than the voters. Their actions and statements in the past few sessions should disabuse anyone of that notion.

    Given that the costs for the uninsured will (as you note) likely be picked up by those of us with financial means and insurance, doesn’t it make long-term fiscal sense to have them able to go to doctors for preventative care before catastrophic health impacts result? The lack of preventative care in this country is one of the major reasons our costs are so out of line with the rest of the world.

    Emotion and rhetoric about free markets aside, the American health care system is broken. It’s a substantial drain on our nation’s productivity and health. Programs that access to health care to even 25 year old Montanans at a reasonable cost are certainly better than the status quo.

  • Have you heard of the NY doc who is thinking out of the box and is not being allowed:
    NEW YORK – Veteran doctor John Muney says his flat-fee, $79-a-month medical practice is a formula for making health care affordable and patient-friendly. But state regulators see it as self-styled insurance and have told him to shut it down.

    The dispute, which emerged this month, reflects a rising issue in what is sometimes called “retainer” medical care. At least two other states have grappled with whether to consider such arrangements insurance, reaching different conclusions.

    The question could become more pressing as jobs disappear in the ailing economy, taking many workers’ traditional health insurance plans with them.

    The debate “makes no sense to me. … I feel that my flat-rate memberships provide a great service,” Muney said at a press conference Wednesday. He is negotiating with the state Insurance Department to try to keep the service at his five AMG Medical Group centers around the city

    Makes me wonder about healthclub memberships. What nonsense to maintain control.

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