It was a Sunday evening at the end of July and my wife, Jean, and I received a call we long knew was coming. My mom had passed away.
For several years, my mom fought a battle with dementia and faced numerous health complications along the way. A few months ago, the doctors found a large mass on her kidney but they were unable to perform surgery because of her frail state and her health rapidly deteriorated until she passed away.
Losing a parent is not easy. But I find comfort in knowing that she lived 84 years and was a constant example of love, kindness, and grace.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time our family lost a loved one from a terrible disease. When my sister was just 17 years old, she lost her battle to cancer, and a few years ago, cancer took my brother’s life.
Cancer is personal to me and as much as I wish it wasn’t the case – our family’s experience with cancer has changed our lives.
Seeing television ads from Sen. Jon Tester’s campaign implying that I don’t care about cancer victims, or understand their concerns, was a line I never thought Jon would cross. I’m all too aware of the impact cancer and other awful diseases have on people’s lives.
And, I’ve heard far too many stories from folks across our state who struggle to pay their health care bills but are terrified of losing coverage.
Jon Tester and the Democrats cannot rewrite history and place the blame on me for the skyrocketing premiums and out-of-control deductibles Tester gave us when he voted for Obamacare. He cast the deciding vote in support of this disastrous legislation, and that’s something he cannot refute. As state auditor and insurance commissioner, our office has an obligation to review the Obamacare rate increases but, unfortunately, thanks to Jon Tester giving us Obamacare, states are left with little recourse.
Under Obamacare, we’ve lost access to health care plans and doctors we were promised we could keep. We were told premiums would be reduced by $2,500, yet between 2013 and 2017, premiums more than doubled in Montana’s individual market – up 133 percent! Year after year, it’s been double-digit increase after double-digit increase – and Montanans are shouldering the burden of these costs.
Tester even cut over $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare and coverage under Medicare Advantage ended for 7,500 Montana seniors this year – dealing a devastating blow to rural Montanans.
Montanans deserve better. I will never give up on repealing and replacing Obamacare. I will continue to fight for health care reform that actually lowers premiums, protects Montanans with pre-existing conditions, and offers plans that fits our budget and personal decisions.
I’m proud of the work our team has done allowing individuals and doctors to enter into agreements that cover services like preventative care, physicals, and minor operations at an affordable monthly rate. We also need to lift the caps on Health Savings Account (HSA), so you can set aside tax-free money to cover your health and medical expenses.
We need more price transparency in our health care system too. That’s why our office spearheaded legislation to give Montanans the right to shop and compare prices for common procedures – but Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed that bill.
We also need to lower the costs of prescription drugs and I’ve taken the fight to the big pharmaceutical companies who are refusing to open up their books for fear that their secret contracts and pay-offs will be exposed. We will hold these companies accountable because we must do more to drive down drugs costs and provide transparency in the system.
By voting for Obamacare, Jon Tester imposed a health care system that’s causing tremendous pain for folks across the state. My promise to each and every one of you is that I will never stop fighting to expand access and bring more affordable health care to Montana families and small businesses, and I will always protect those Montanans with pre-existing conditions.
Matt Rosendale is running for the U.S. Senate and currently serves as state auditor and commissioner of insurance.