Medicaid Isn’t Broken, Tell Ed Buttrey No Costly Bureaucratic Fix Needed

Even Steve Daines knows Montana Medicaid expansion works, Rep. Buttrey, it’s time to drop the charade that this is about anything other than your political ambitions. Montanans deserve to feel secure in their home, in their finances and need to know that some bureaucrat empowered by your costly bureaucratic “fix” could not take their healthcare.

If you’re among the 96,000 Montanans currently insured through Medicaid expansion, you better hope that your level of “community engagement” is good enough for Ed Buttrey or brace yourself to lose your healthcare.

Since Republicans and Democrats passed the bipartisan expansion program in 2015, it has had such widespread positive impacts to Montana’s economy and healthcare quality (don’t take our word for it- listen to the Montana Departments of Labor and Revenue) that even Montana’s Republican majority knew they couldn’t show up with plans to straight up kill Medicaid expansion.

The program works as is, and that’s the problem. Buttrey knows better than anybody that his bill needs a fix. Not for you, but for his party. At nearly 100,000 enrolled, most Montana Republicans can’t admit to themselves that the program is more critical than they ever thought it would be when some of them helped enact it in 2015. But rather than acknowledge this need and renew it as is, they want to suppress enrollment and diminish the impact of the successful Obama-Era program.

Take 30 seconds to call 406-444-4800 and urge your legislator to vote against this garbage piece of legislation and instead support House Bill 425, Rep. Mary Caferro’s bill to renew the Medicaid expansion program as is.

You know what to do.

You can use this handy form to submit comments to your legislator as well:

So what exactly is in Buttrey’s Bureaucratic Boondoggle?


Participants in the program would need to report their community engagement. The state would then need to audit these responses and decide who gets to stay on Medicaid.

Where do we get the money for this audit? New Republican taxes, of course, on the Montana State Fund, hospitals, nonprofit health insurers, and even financial assets. The new fees and taxes would also raise premiums for the rest of us in Montana. This bureaucratic boondoggle gets worse the longer you look at it.

Are you a caregiver of a child or disabled adult? A full-time student? Are you unable to work because you’re currently ill? Buttrey is promising you an exemption with three simple steps:

  1. Don’t make any mistakes on your newly required “community engagement” paperwork. If you do, just petition the state to reconsider. What could go wrong?
  2. Cross your fingers and hope that you don’t slip through the cracks of Montana’s new audit system.
  3. Kneel down and pray that the Federal Government (which pays for 90% of these costs) honors your Montana exemption- a step they haven’t taken for other states in the past.

As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities stated about Buttrey’s bill:

“This proposal can’t be fixed: regardless of its structure, it would likely cause tens of thousands of Montanans to lose coverage.”

“The revised Montana proposal would likely cause coverage losses similar to or even higher than those of Arkansas, the first state with a Medicaid work requirement. That state ended coverage for more than 18,000 people.”

Expanded coverage through Medicaid expansion is:

  • Good for patients – providing preventative care to more than 95,000 Montanans

  • Good for local businesses – 18,000 Montana businesses are benefiting from a healthier workforce; 

  • Good for working Montanans – 84% of Medicaid expansion participants are working, going to school or caretakers for their family;

  • Good for Montana – guards against runaway premiums for all of us, while improving the health of our state to its highest level in more than a decade 

  • Good for our communities – protects and enhances health services for communities both big and small, by reducing the number of uninsured patients and uncompensated care that lead to cuts or closure impacting everyone; and 

  • Good for our economy – contributing 6,000 new jobs, $350 million in personal income and $30.5 million in new state tax revenues. 

If Montana policymakers want to help low-income adults find jobs and advance their careers, they should instead boost the state’s investment in its promising workforce promotion program, which links Medicaid beneficiaries with job training and other work-related services. Expanding workforce training would do much more to achieve these goals than taking coverage away from Medicaid beneficiaries.

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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Nathan Kosted

1 Comment

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  • As a mother now grandmother may I tell you what I have observed?
    Moms on Medicaid running to the doctor every time their child gets a cold RATHER than keeping them home until they are well enough to go back to school.
    We’ve got to educate these moms … Medicaid moms or not –

    AND, we’ve got to stop the ‘Well Child check-up’s at $125. a visit. It is wasting time and money.

    Let’s educate moms BEFORE they become moms …

    Please don’t mess with Medicaid. Support HB 425. Let’s keep Montana healthy.

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