The response from our government to the COVID-19 crisis will be second-guessed and cross-checked for years to come. Some decisions made sense while some were egregious oversteps. One decision made by the federal government was to put a pause on state governments looking at the qualifications of individuals on the Medicaid programs, traditional as well as expansion. The result of disallowing states to manage their Medicaid programs was a sharp incline of those receiving benefits from Montana Medicaid, qualifying or not. No matter your thoughts on where the government went wrong during COVID-19, I hope we all can agree that any program, especially a government-run program, is not sustainable if it is not allowed to be managed. It is detrimental to the diligently working taxpayer. I would also argue it is detrimental to the unqualified who still receive benefits that draw from tax dollars from other state services. Thankfully, about nine months ago the federal government declared the pandemic over and states resumed their jobs. This created a monumental task for our Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to go through the Medicaid enrollees and make sure they were qualified to receive the benefits. Director Brereton and the DPHHS are doing precisely what their jobs require, spending long hours and going through copious amounts of paperwork to make sure they get it right. If you want more Montanans to receive taxpayer-funded health care, or if you think it is best for the dignity of the individual as well as your working neighbor who is paying for it that we tighten up the qualifications, then the legislative committee room is the place to have that debate in the upcoming legislative session. As for now, I applaud the state workers who have diligently accomplished the task mandated of them amidst a few wrongly directed negative comments.
Rep. Matt Regier, R-Kalispell
Speaker of the Montana House
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