Medicaid Expansion Tall Tales?

If you tell a lie big enough and repeat it often enough, people will eventually come to believe it’ (according to infamous and vile NAZI propagandist, Joseph Goebbels). Apparently anti-government extremists such as Representative Derek Skees, Representative Theresa Manzella, and some of their ‘special 38’ friends are fans of Goebbel’s approach because they are continually stating that those who voted for Montana’s Medicaid Expansion solution supported hidden language in the Medicaid Reform and Integrity Act (HB658) that expanded the Medicaid rules on accessing abortion in Montana, which is absolutely not true! 

To distribute their “38 Special version of the “facts”, these legislators are utilizing local fake news sites (Pastor Jordan Hall’s Montana Daily Gazette and Jim White’s Northwest Liberty News) to present incorrect and slanted “news” articles. Their goal is to fool the voter by twisting the facts. 

Here are the facts:   

❏    While there are always challenges with Medicaid Expansion that require continual monitoring, to limit fraud, waste, and abuse, nothing in the 2019  HB658 Medicaid Reform changed the Medicaid access rules for abortion in any way.

❏    For 43 years, the Hyde Amendment has barred the use of federal Medicaid funding to finance abortion care in almost all cases. Since its passage the premise has remained the same — the Hyde Amendment bans federally funded abortions except in cases of rape, incest, and lifesaving medical necessity. 

❏    Since 2007 Pregnant women in Montana already had access to Traditional Medicaid for their healthcare up to 150% of poverty. This access was defined in law long before Medicaid Expansion in 2015 or the 2019 Medicaid Reform.   Thus, for pregnant women -the only group that could consider an abortion- Medicaid Expansion did not increase access to any medical process.

❏    Montana is one of 15 states that has a court defined twist. Montana’s Judge Sherlock, in a 1995 court case, responded by broadening what Montana’s state share of Medicaid could cover to include abortions deemed “medically necessary”; however, the “abortion on demand” process supposedly included in the 2019 Medicaid Reform is a “big lie”. The truth is that HB658 could not change the federal Hyde amendment rules, did not increase pregnant women access to care,  and did not impact the Sherlock “medically necessary” definition in any way.   

❏    In a June 24, 2019 memorandum to the Montana Family Foundation, Chief Legal Counsel Milanoviich correctly stated that, “Neither the 2015 nor the 2019 Medicaid expansion bills affected a change in this coverage.”

Voters should wonder why, if Representatives Skees, Manzella, or other members of their extremist ‘.38 special friends’ had an issue with the 1995 Sherlock decision, they didn’t bring any legislation to address this?  In fact, what the “.38 specials” did was vote to bring a Democrat sponsored Medicaid bill to the floor with no work requirements or additional waste, fraud, and abuse reforms.

In Montana, healthcare polls as the number one concern for our voters, and rightly so – the public demands solutions.  Most Montana Republicans hoped that a Republican US Congress, with a Republican President, would produce better options for Montana via the promised “repeal and replace” process. However, Montana’s Federal delegation did not offer any solutions.  Thankfully, Montana’s legislature had a “Conservative Solutions Caucus” that took a leadership role on healthcare solutions and other critical issues, working tirelessly to actually SOLVE problems everyday Montanan’s were facing in light of the federal system forced upon us all.

If HB658 had not passed, it is likely that numerous rural hospitals would have closed as was the case for 100 plus rural hospitals in other states. In addition, insurance and private payer costs would have risen an additional 8-12%.  It is also a ‘fact’ that many Montanans have family members, neighbors or friends who have been able to access medical care, keep their jobs, or stay in Montana because of the Montana Medicaid  Reform and Integrity Act. 

The Montana Legislative Solutions Caucus understands that sometimes the ‘solution’ to a problem must be a ‘human’ one that fits Montana, not simply a political one.  Montana voters will not be fooled by the .38 special fiend’s devious big abortion lie. 

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