by William Skink
The biggest responsibility Montana’s 2019 class of legislators have this session is deciding the fate of Medicaid expansion in Montana. An early skirmish amongst Republicans over rules–pegging the number of legislators needed to blast a bill out of a kill committee to how many happen to be in the majority (58 this year)–gives a slight tilt to the “solutions caucus”. Will it be enough to avoid the worst inclinations of the punch-the-poor-in-the-face zealots who could care less if the state gets sued as long as some poor people have the screws turned on ’em?
Coming off the failure of trying to save Medicaid with a tobacco tax, Bullock is now trying to make saving Medicaid expansion all about jobs. There is plenty of data to back up Bullock’s claim that Medicaid expansion has been a great jobs creator, but will this be a compelling argument for conservatives? There doesn’t seem to be much concern about government workers at the Federal level right now, so I’m doubtful.
If I were in elected office this session trying to reshape the debate over Medicaid I would include the positive impact of the expansion on law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Medicaid plays a huge role in increasing access to treatment and supportive services. With an addiction crisis playing out on the streets, in emergency rooms and in jails across the state, explaining this positive impact could be compelling.
I’ll be reading what I can about this session as it unfolds. There is serious business that needs to be done, so hopefully there’s no more stupid shit like the stunt demanding Montana taxpayers shell out 8 million dollars for Trump’s border wall.