Expansion of Medicaid to an estimated 70,000 additional low-income Montanans would have obvious economic benefits for our state. That’s a lot of new customers for our health-care system.
In addition to providing health care, expanding Medicaid would create new, permanent jobs in the health care industries. Many of these jobs would be well paid, and all of them would provide incomes that circulate through the broader economy and yield new tax revenues to our counties, state and Indian reservations. Some of these jobs would go to graduates of the new program training medical personnel at Flathead Valley Community College.
The benefits would be spread widely across the state. Medicare expansion would affect every town and city that has a hospital, a doctor’s office or a pharmacy.
These benefits would be free of charge to Montanans for the first two years, funded entirely by outside money from the federal government. We Montanans pay federal taxes, but at present we receive none of these funds, because our Republican-dominated Legislature refuses to authorize the expansion. All we need to do is say, “Yes!” After the first two years, 90 percent of the costs would be federally funded. The state would pay 10 cents of every dollar. Could we ask for a better deal?
In addition to the influx of funds, Medicaid expansion would provide health care and medical counseling to people of all ages, in most cases before they become chronically ill, enabling them in many cases to remain active and employable instead of becoming disabled by untreated illnesses. This would yield reductions in future medical expenditures as well as added economic productivity.
The campaign against Medicaid expansion by a lobbying group named Americans for Prosperity, funded by mainly the conservative Koch brothers, presents the spectacle of very rich people working to deny health care to the poor. What could be more immoral? In the process they would deny Montana some of the prosperity that their organization’s name promises. What could be more hypocritical?
Contact your legislators and urge them to find ways to expand Medicaid.
Judy R. Cox