Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

A ‘Mean’ Approach to Health Care

It’s time Montana leaders demanded answers on federal health care policy

The Associated Press reported that President Donald Trump called the House version of the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act “mean.”  He asked that the Senate be “more generous.”

The House-version dumps 23 million people off health care. Ironically, it was questions on this score that lead to Rep. Greg Gianforte being found guilty of assaulting a reporter. Gianforte will later vote on the final bill.

There have been no hearings in Washington, D.C. on the Republicans’ American Health Care Act. As a secret working group crafts the Republican health care solution, Montana Sen. Steve Daines has yet to hold any face-to-face town halls in Montana.    

It’s like Republicans don’t much care that Montana lawmakers crafted a bipartisan solution to expand Medicaid heath insurance to up to 75,000 state citizens.

The Montana Healthcare Foundation released a study indicating that “Montana (would) lose $4.8 billion in federal funding under the American Health Care Act.”  Republicans appear blind to this reality, yet simply mimic another ruse that it’ll bring states more flexibility. 

Hogwash. Cutting $4.8 billion from Montana Medicaid is not chump change.

If Daines supports eliminating anywhere near that amount of federal money from Montana Medicaid he’ll put 75,000 citizens at risk. Medicaid recipients are kids, elderly, poor families, and disabled neighbors.

Nationwide, 11 million children, or 15 percent of kids, have special health care needs from autism, cerebral palsy or Down syndrome.

The vice president of health policy at the Center for American Progress wrote, “900,000 elderly would lose their Medicaid benefits” and that “6.7 million Medicaid enrollees have preexisting conditions and would become uninsured.”

There must be a special church somewhere in America that teaches the moral of sticking-it to the poor, the sick and the elderly.  That’s not how I was raised and it’s clearly not what Jesus would do.

The New York Times reported that the citizens of “not one state” support the Republican health care approach to insurance. Montana support for the Republican and Daines’ approach is at a dismal 26 percent. It’s easy to understand why Daines chooses not to meet with constituents in a live town hall.

The White House budget director recently told CBS This Morning that if people need essential health benefits laws they could “figure out a way to change the state you live in.” The budget director suggested citizens needing services like pediatric, pregnancy, preventive, emergency, or hospitalization care lobby the state to enact better laws.   

The Republican rhetoric of buying insurance across state lines was nothing but a rhetorical campaign ruse all along. Who knew?

Montana’s Republican commissioner of insurance, Matt Rosendale, has done little but politicize health care by indicating it’s Montana Sen. Jon Tester’s fault. Are you kidding us? Tester isn’t even allowed to read the secret Republican bill.

Montanans will soon see Rosendale approve health insurance rates statewide.

It’s time Montana leaders demanded answers on federal health care policy. There are clearly too many secrets held by Daines and the Republicans to tolerate. There are people’s lives at stake in this decision.

Sen. John Cornyn said that the Senate bill would be 80 percent similar to the House version. That’s “more generous” and 20 percentage points less “mean.” Twenty percent less only dumps 18 million Americans off insurance and maybe ends Medicaid in Montana a year later.

It’s cruel and reprehensible to charge older Montanans significantly more for health care, to end Medicaid for our citizens, and generally to make America sicker again. That’s inhumane.

These are not the values taught in the good book, and Daines and Rosendale should change course and fix this political travesty aiming to take away people’s health care. Some churches and moderate Republicans must be shocked into silence. It’s time to act.

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