Representative Daines Proposes Ensuring Access to Health Care By Taking Away Access to Health Care

Representative Steve Daines

On the heels of a press release masquerading as a news story in the Missoulian,

Representative Steve Daines
Representative Steve Daines

Congressman Steve Daines sent an e-mail out today to constituents that is another piece of Orwellian nonsense. Titled “Protecting access to health care and jobs,” the e-mail is about a proposal sponsored by Daines that will deny access to health insurance for thousands of home health care workers in Montana.

Daines, who previously had another press release story in the Missoulian about meeting with one of these companies, Consumer Direct Management Solutions, has certainly done diligent work for this them, holding public meetings and now proposing legislation for their benefit. 

In another press release, Daines acknowledges that his proposal, which was written at the bidding of the home health care industry, would take away health insurance from hundreds of thousands of these workers:

Long-term care service provider agencies, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers across the country, say complying with the mandate is especially problematic because it would force them to cut jobs or reduce employee hours in order to continue providing services to Medicaid or Medicare recipients. 

Strip away the Orwellian talk written to benefit these corporations, and the intent of the Daines legislation is clear: to protect the profit margins of huge companies at the expense of people who work in incredibly challenging jobs that have historically offered low pay. In fact, until 2013, all home health care workers were not even guaranteed earning the minimum wage.

The people who wrote the bill for Daines and encouraged him to introduce it are understandably excited about its prospects. As their press release notes, they “urged [Congressman Daines] to sponsor a bill” because of their concerns about “recent and proposed payment cuts” in the Medicare and Medicaid systems. 

Wrap your brain around that for just a moment: Representative Daines is proposing to exempt the home health care industry from the mandate to provide insurance for its workers because of the Medicaid/Medicare cuts he has endorsed. Instead of endorsing a policy that will gut the Medicare system and deny home health care workers access to insurance, Daines could work to strengthen Medicare, solving both issues, but that simply won’t fit with the cruel, cowardly ideology of punishing low-income Americans to preserve privilege for the wealthiest few.

There’s probably a lesson for the press here, too, one that they never seem to heed. When a Congressman orchestrates a sham public meeting, especially with a business he’s used before as the setting, it might be worthwhile to do some actual reporting before running the story. The politician and business might not be the best sources for unbiased information about the proposal—and a little independent research (hell, or use of Google) might just make your story a bit more complete.

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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