It is refreshing to see the Billings Gazette editorial board put together such well thought out and straight to the point pieces as the one they published endorsing re-authorization of Medicaid expansion in Montana, without change.
It’s really quite simple and anyone without a political agenda gets it.
Medicaid expansion works for working Montanas who rely on it to survive.
Medicaid expansion works for Montana businesses who rely on it to keep their employees healthy, stable economically, and productive, not to mention the fact that these low-income Montanans are able to work and get healthcare, at no expense to the employer.
Medicaid expansion works for Montana hospitals that are able to provide top-quality care in every corner of Montana without fear of covering emergency room visits of uninsured Montanans.
Medicaid expansion in Montana has quite literally kept rural hospitals open.
Medicaid expansion works for Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
Read the Gazette piece here and excerpts below:
Gazette Opinion: Keep Medicaid expansion in Montana as is
Nearly every legislator in Helena agrees: We need to keep Medicaid expansion in Montana.
But not every legislator agrees how that should be done.
Nearly one in every 10 Montanans depends on Medicaid for dependable, affordable health care. Medicaid expansion has not only been a boon to individuals who now have access to a doctor in a non-emergency, non-catastrophic manner, but it has also been a blessing to employers who may not have been able to afford healthcare coverage to all staff.
Most state lawmakers also realize that eliminating the program, which draws $600 million to the state, would damage the economy, and potentially leave Montanans who can’t afford healthcare in dire shape.
According to a 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation report, about three percent of Medicaid recipients do not work for “other” reasons. Six percent are currently looking for work. The remaining 91 percent have reasons that range from being ill, disabled or taking care of family members. Fifteen percent are on Medicaid because they’re going to school, ostensibly being trained to get a job so that they wouldn’t have to rely on Medicaid. Nearly one-in-three say they’re on Medicaid because they’re attending to another family member who can’t care for themselves.
In other words, the problem of non-working Medicaid recipients is really a non-problem.
In addition to the $600 million the expansion has added to the economy, it has also seen more than 5,900 jobs added. Plus, the expansion has resulted in a net positive impact of $6.5 million to the state’s coffers.
Maybe the most impressive statistic from the report, issued by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, is that the labor force increased from 3.9 to 6.2 percent in the low-income category because workers now had insurance. In other words, some lawmakers’ concerns that people who are on Medicaid don’t work isn’t just a fallacy, statistically, it’s just the opposite. More people are going to work because they have health care. If GOP lawmakers concerned with the Medicaid expansion are really so concerned about Montanans staying in the workforce, they should do everything they can to keep the expansion.
For so long we had a broken system that saw more than one in every 10 residents in the state go without health coverage. That gap has shrunk, and economic research shows that what was once broke has been repaired, even if not completely fixed.
Either prove definitively that change is necessary, or keep Medicaid expansion as it is.
The Missoulian had a surprisingly thoughtful, informative editorial on Medicaid expansion, too. Thanks for letting me add this link to your post, Nathan — Pete Talbot