Last week in the Legislature, the governor’s Medicaid Expansion bill finally got its hearing. As you may have read, the committee voted to tag it with a “Do Not Pass” label on a party-line vote. That meant that for the House to overturn the committee’s action, it would need 60 votes on the House floor. A near impossibility.
It’s possible a majority of legislators in the House would have voted for Medicaid expansion. All the Democrats and a few responsible Republicans likely could have passed the bill had it received a fair hearing. Instead, the committee’s actions required a super majority which can be difficult to muster on such a contentious bill.
When the issue came before the full House, of course the entire Bitterroot contingent of legislators voted against it. Ballance, Ehli, Greef and Manzella all cast their votes against Medicaid expansion despite multiple Bitterroot Valley residents testifying during the committee hearing. (Part of 6 hours of testimony)
In addition to the residents who spoke, Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital came out in support of Medicaid expansion noting it would help decrease the amount of charity care they have to write off every year and allow them to be more financially solvent. This is the biggest employer in the county saying they would be better off with Medicaid expansion. And still these legislators chose to vote with Americans For Prosperity (funded by the Koch brothers) to reject Medicaid expansion.
It’s a shame these lawmakers don’t understand how continuing to leave people in the gap is hurting this community. People can’t afford healthcare, which means they can’t work, and can’t contribute to our economy or climb out of poverty. These four legislators are not serving those they represent. They’re serving out of state interests with votes like this.