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Letter to the Editor: Stick to facts on Medicaid expansion

 

March 16, 2015



Editor:

State Rep. Stephanie Hess, R-Havre, in her explanation of why she voted against the governor's plan to expand Medicaid to 70,000 deserving Montanans, cited several incorrect statistics. She claimed that in the first year the program would cost Montana $34 million a year and that it eventually would cost the state $250 million a year.

The fiscal note by the governor's budget office attached to House Bill 249 says the program would have saved the state $30 million in the first year, $29 million in the second, $14 million in the third, and $6 million in the fourth year. As you know, the federal government would pick up the entire cost of the first three years.

An additional analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Division, requested by a Republican legislator, came to somewhat different conclusions. It said the program would cost the state a total of $34 million over the first four years. Once the state would be required to share in the cost — at no more than 10 percent — the state's share would range from $52.9 million a year in 2021 to $61.7 million a year in 2023, that analysis said.

The total cost to the state over the first eight years would be about $250 million, it added.

And keep in mind that accepting the federal money to expand Medicaid is projected to create 12,000 jobs in Montana while providing health insurance to up to 70,000 people. No wonder Montana's medical and business communities, as well as its citizens, are strongly in favor of expanding Medicaid in our state.

If you are going to oppose this, make sure you get your facts right.

Karen Datko

Havre

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