For all their talk about supporting the “Montana way of life” and our small towns, Montana Republicans are awfully willing to undermine the economic viability of those towns and the health of the people who live in them.
Even though the evidence is clear that Medicaid expansion has saved rural hospitals in Montana and across the country, some Republicans want to tear down the program, not just because they oppose an Obama success story, but because they don’t believe that people in our small towns deserve access to decent health care in their communities.
Consider the responses to this post by Senator Bruce Tutvedt, who shared an article noting that almost 3/4 of the rural hospitals that have closed in recent years closed in states that did not expand their Medicaid services.
That’s former legislator, current legislative candidate for House District 26, and dedicated opponent of first responders Jeremy Trebas opining that rural hospitals “should be closed.”
That’s Representative Greg Devries, who believes we should shutter public schools and let parents put their children to full-time work on farms, opining that there is no right to a local hospital and suggesting, it seems, that times were better when settlers headed West and Pa would die of dysentery before you hit Oregon.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Trebas and DeVries oppose health care access for their fellow Montanans. After all, what can you expect from a legislator who voted against healthcare for firefighters who developed cancer in the line of duty and one who was admonished by the House twice, once for trivializing the genocide against American Indian peoples in the state?
Why their comments matter, though, is that Trebas and DeVries simply lack the guile to mask their intentions. Far too many Montana Republicans in the Legislature will rail against Medicaid Expansion from one side of their mouth while claiming to defend rural medical facilities from the other.
We should be thankful for candidates like these two: they’re expressing the real agenda of Montana Republicans, which is to ensure that people in our small communities can no longer seek medical attention when they need it.
The next time a Republican candidate says he’ll overturn the Medicaid expansion that has helped Montana so much, remember these two and their comments. While most political candidates can better manage their rhetoric, the simple truth is that electing a Republican legislature and governor will mean the death of far too many of Montana’s rural hospitals, Montana’s communities, and Montana’s people.