Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) has now embraced the expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care bill known as Obamacare in his final budget proposal. However, Governor-elect Steve Bullock (D-MT) remains non-committal, although a comment from his spokesman appears to give room to Bullock’s eventual support.
As Chuck Johnson reports:
Gov.-elect Steve Bullock supports some key components of fellow Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s proposed budget, but hasn’t decided yet about expanding health coverage for 80,000 low-income Montanans, his spokesman said Thursday.
“We’re paying way too much (on health care) and getting way too little,” O’Brien said. “As a candidate and through the transition, Steve is continuing to meet with folks from all across Montana in the medical community, finding ways to lower the cost for the delivery of health care, while still maintaining quality. What that means in the budget, time will tell in December, but what we have now is not working.
Gov. Schweitzer’s proposal comes after what appeared to be very critical remarks of the health care bill from a Democratic Governor. As Montana Media Trackers noted via Twitter, the Governor had this to say in a Washington Post column earlier this year:
At least seven Democratic governors have been noncommittal about their willingness to go along with expanding their states’ Medicaid programs, the chief means by which the law would extend coverage to millions of Americans with incomes below or near the poverty line.
“Unlike the federal government, Montana can’t just print money,” Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) said in a statement Wednesday. “We have a budget surplus, and we’re going to keep it that way.”
The law would add an estimated 84,000 people to Montana’s Medicaid program, doubling its size, the governor said. Although the federal government would pay the vast majority of the additional costs, Montana’s health department estimates the state’s share would reach $71 million in 2019. Outside groups say the costs would be far lower than that.