Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Healthy Vote

This is a big election; don’t miss it

That northeast wind blew cold like a hungry soul looking for an easy meal. We put a log into the woodstove. The farmhouse was warm.

Days later the sunshine returned, the garlic is now in the ground. It was a good growing season, with plenty of ups and downs.

I’ve lived most of my life on our farm. We’ve worked the land for decades. The land offers perspective on life. Change seems recognizable.

Crops need sunshine, nutritious soil, water, and care. On the farm, the cycle of life revolves in season. Away from the farm, times feel rough.

Nationally, nobody listens to nobody. There’s enormous pressure. People act callous. Mean, as if kindness was lost. Political teams seem ruthless and out of touch.

Locally, you already know what’s important to your family and whom you trust.

You should act on it and vote. You could act today.

Every season on the farm, we learn a handful of new techniques. But most things remain the same, familiar.

Montana politics feels similar. Democrats and Republicans vote for their candidates. The political bases return home every fall. There’s some rumbling but most toe the line.

Statewide and in the swing districts across Montana, in places like Columbia Falls, Kalispell and Whitefish, independent-minded voters decide the races.

This is a big election; don’t miss it. I’m not kidding, you’ll regret sitting out.

Many of us are unlikely to vote. That’s sad. We’re fearful or hopeful, optimistic or pessimistic.

Yet, Montanans understand Montana. We’re made up from our small places, the towns and cities across the greatness of our state.

We work hard. We’re not afraid to get our hands dirty. It’s a part of who we are. We want our representatives to listen. Act on our concerns.

Health care is a huge priority.

From birth to death, we need health care. Paramedics, dentists, physical or message therapists, eye doctors, midwives, surgeons, nurses, and doctors all help us live.

Last year, this Congress tried repeatedly to repeal the health insurance protections provided to the 152,000 Montanans who have a preexisting medical condition.

Health care for middle-aged farmers like myself is outrageously expensive. The law provides some tax relief for select working Montanans. Insurance is just way too expensive for some Montanans.

This Congress tried to reduce the tax relief afforded to Montanans who purchase private health insurance. That’s outrageous.

Some state lawmakers are proposing onerous requirements on the 100,000 Montanans using federal Medicaid health care. Eighty percent of Montana Medicaid households already work.

These are the same lawmakers that are only required to work four months, every 24 months, to receive their taxpayer-funded health insurance.

Our state and national politicians all get free health care. We taxpayers pay for these very generous plans. Some politicians work half time, some much less. They still get free, taxpayer-funded healthcare.

The rest of us, we’re willing to pay a just amount. Our politicians can keep their health care, just don’t take ours away.

Increase middle-income health care tax breaks. Let those over age 55 buy into Medicare. Get real about the cost of medicine. Stop trying to repeal Medicaid or preexisting conditions. What’s wrong with you, Congress?

People need Medicare and Medicaid. Health care tax breaks, no-lifetime caps, and preexisting condition bans are good public policy.

Since Montana expanded Medicaid and federal health care tax credits became law, the uninsured rate dropped by two-thirds. Previously one in 5 Montanans weren’t insured; today one in 13 Montanans aren’t insured.

That’s a huge benefit to our local hospitals and health care clinics. It’s better care for all of us.

Only your vote protects Medicare, Medicaid and health care.

Your vote decides what’s next for Montana. Make the time. Do it today. Plan our future. Vote for health care and the candidates who best understand Montana.

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