Tara Veazey, Executive Director of the Montana Budget and Policy Center, stated, “This session, seventy thousand uninsured Montanans were denied health coverage that would have saved lives, lowered health care costs for all of us, and protected rural hospitals struggling with uncompensated care. A billion dollars in federal funds that Montanans helped pay for- and over 12,000 jobs it would have created- were denied. Thousands of Montanans, rural hospitals, doctors, nurses, business leaders, chambers of commerce, health care experts, and economists were all ignored by legislative leadership. It is a sad day for good public policy, and it is a sad day for representative democracy in Montana.” Read more here.
Across the nation, the original languages of American Indians are vanishing at an alarming rate, taking with them a vital piece of the culture of our first people. Now, the 2013 Legislature has the opportunity to help preserve the languages of Montana’s tribes. The proposal being considered, SB 342, would establish tribal language programs in reservation schools and engage American Indian youth in saving their languages. However, the impact of these programs reaches well beyond just the preservation of language, for both our students and our state. Read our report here.
A strong economy allows for the creation and retention of local jobs, the establishment and growth of businesses, and the ability to keep money in the local community. There, those dollars have multiplying effects that drive economic growth, especially in Indian Country. Since 2005, the Indian Country Economic Development (ICED) program has empowered Montana’s tribes to take a hands-on approach to strengthening reservation economies. See our report about the ICED program here.
Montana has the highest percentage of uninsured veterans in the nation (17.3%). Approximately 9,000 veterans have no insurance, and about 5,000 more report having only VA health care. Military veterans and their families are among the Montanans who would benefit from the expansion of Medicaid currently being considered by the Montana Legislature. As many as 9,500 Montana veterans and their spouses would gain access to quality, affordable health care coverage if lawmakers choose to expand Medicaid. Read MBPC's full fact sheet here.
Tax credit scholarships are not a viable option for Montana. When these programs have been implemented in other states, they have failed to improve access to high-quality education or save the state money. Instead, tax credit scholarships divert funding away from public schools, jeopardizing the state’s ability to encourage further improvements and innovation within the public school system. Read MBPC's full report here.
The 2013 legislative session holds a unique opportunity for Montana to invest in our workforce and boost our economy. Montana has the chance to expand our Medicaid program to cover tens of thousands of newly-eligible Montanans. More than 43,000 uninsured working Montanans could be newly covered if Montana takes advantage of federal funding to expand Medicaid eligibility. Men and women working in dozens of industries and occupations that are critical to Montana’s economic success would benefit. Restaurants, construction, and ranching would be among the industries that experience the greatest benefits. Read MBPC’s full report here.
Years ago, the legislature created a tax break for oil and gas companies. At the time, proponents of the tax break claimed that it would encourage economic development in Montana’s resource-rich areas, a claim unsupported by the facts. In reality, oil and gas companies will operate where there is oil and cannot afford to base their decisions on state taxes, which are just a small fraction of their total costs. Read MBPC's full report on the oil and gas tax holiday here.
Today was a very good day for Montana’s families, communities, and economy. Governor Schweitzer’s proposed budget makes important investments in our essential programs and helps to make Montana more economically competitive by improving the health of our workforce and prioritizing public education.
The governor’s budget includes the expansion of Montana’s Medicaid program- a decision that will provide health care for tens of thousands of hardworking Montanans, from ranchers to restaurant workers, and create well-paying jobs across the state. Other than relatively small administrative costs associated with expanded eligibility, one hundred percent of the costs of this expansion are covered by the federal government for the first three years, allowing Montana’s leaders to find state-based solutions to our health care challenges and grow the program in a way that capitalizes on our state’s unique opportunities and characteristics. Read more of MBPC's statement here.
Montana has a unique opportunity to improve healthcare for American Indians by expanding Medicaid. If Montana policymakers choose to take advantage of this opportunity, American Indians who are newly eligible for Medicaid, including those who rely on Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities, will see improvements in their healthcare. Up to 19,547 American Indians would be newly enrolled in the program, improving access to care and health outcomes throughout Indian Country. Read our report here and our fact sheet here.
Failure to participate in Medicaid expansion would come at a high cost for Montana. It would create a devastating gap between the insured and those who otherwise should have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act. It would continue to place thousands of Montanans at incredible financial risk and forgo an opportunity to improve health care for American Indians. Furthermore, failure to expand Medicaid would be a missed opportunity to improve Montana’s economy and create jobs across the state.
Failure to provide access to health care to thousands of Montanans is a decision our state cannot afford to make. Read more here.