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Our View: Shun politics, help working Montanans get health care


January 26, 2015

Thousands of Montanans do not have enough money to give themselves proper health care.

As a result, they decline preventative health care measures, and they put off doctor visits on minor problems until they get seriously ill.

This should not happen in a civilized society. Health care, in the 21st century, ought to be a right.

These 71,000 Montanans fall between the cracks. They are not poor enough to be eligible for Medicaid, but they don't make enough to qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Why doesn’t the Affordable Care Act provide help for these people? Well, it does, but states have to agree to take part in the program. At first the feds pick up the entire cost. After three years, it drops to 90 percent of the cost. States pick up the rest.

Providing quality health care is within our grasp.

We hope Montanans jump at the opportunity to do so.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan to expand health care is a win-win situation for everyone. We hope politics doesn’t get in the way of passing his proposals.

When the Affordable Care Act was approved, these people that now fall through the cracks were to be covered under an expanded Medicaid plan but the Supreme Court ruled that each state should be allowed to decide if they want to participate.

Since then, many states have opted to join the expanded Medicaid program, and others are now considering doing so.

As federal taxpayers, Montanans are paying for the states that have decided to provide health care to their working poor. But so far. we’ve turned down money to help our own — waitresses, laborers and daycare workers — who need help getting health care.

Bullock is proposing that Montana join the other states in accepting millions of dollars in federal funds available under the Affordable Care Act to help people in need of health care.

The opposition so far has relied on hysterical fear of the federal funding for any project. Montana would be in a tough way if we turned away federal aid for programs ranging from wheat supports to highway assistance.

The advantages of the Bullock plan are many.

Hospitals and health centers would be paid for services they provide, helping health care organizations in the tough task for balancing their books. Many people today are unable to pay for their care, so hospitals write it off.

Health care organizations would hire more people to provide services which patients will now be able to afford.

The new employees would be able to spend money at local businesses.

The most important benefit, of course, is that people will get health care before they become seriously sick. Minor illness will be treated before they become health disasters.

People will feel better and may be able to get better jobs.

The people who struggle to make ends meet — the working class who work hard but can’t quite make it financially — are the ones who will be helped by this Medicaid expansion.

The solution is at hand. It would be sad if we turned it down.


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