The Healthy Montana Campaign:
The Healthy Montana Campaign is a coalition of organizations committed to accepting available federal funds to expand Medicaid in Montana.
For over two and a half years, a diverse coalition of individuals and organizations worked to expand Medicaid in Montana for the 70,000 Montanans who need and deserve health care. We knew that this was critical not only to those left without health care, but it would provide a financial lifeline to rural hospitals, bring home millions in Montana tax dollars back to our state, and create 12,000 good paying jobs.
During this time, we faced multiple barriers. We were up against well-financed opponents and small but powerful ideological minority. However, we are thrilled to report that the voices of Montanans and a grassroots effort overcame the odds.
Over the past few months, the voices of Montanans were heard. Over 10,000 called and emailed into the Capitol switchboard in support of Medicaid expansion. More than150 people submitted an opinion editorial or letter to the editor. More than 300 signed in or testified in support, and hundreds more came to Helena to attend a rally or walked the halls to talk to legislators.
On March 18th, 2015, the Montana Senate voted to send SB405 to the desk of Governor Bullock. We are proud that this legislation was supported by a bi-partisan coalition of Legislators from across the state, and we are proud that we are moving forward on this critical issue.
Together we celebrate an incredible victory, however our work is not done. There is still much to do to get as many Montanans access to health care as possible. However, we will enjoy this moment and thank everyone who helped with this incredible effort. Montana now joins the list of 29 states that passed Medicaid expansion.
The 2013 Montana Legislature had the ability to change the lives of 70,000 Montanans, create jobs, and boost our economy. They could have accepted federal funds to expand the state’s Medicaid program and provide badly needed access to health care to uninsured Montanans, including veterans, single parents, American Indians, home healthcare workers, and low-income adults. Or, they could turn these dollars away, sending them to states like California and New Jersey, leaving tens of thousands of Montanans without the medical coverage they need.
Legislators worked together to create a bipartisan compromise to expand Medicaid. Unfortunately, the final bill became a victim of political gamesmanship and obstructionism by a small group of conservative legislators. The legislature adjourned without taking action. Want to know how your legislator voted? Click here to find out.
In spring 2014, a group formed the Healthy Montana Campaign – I-170, and proposed a ballot initiative to let Montana voters decide to expand Medicaid. Over 300 volunteers worked tirelessly gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot. Because of their work, the movement to expand Medicaid grew by over 3,000 voters each and every week this spring. There are over 25,000 people who signed the initiative. Unfortunately on June 19, 2014, the Healthy Montana Initiative announced to volunteers and supporters across the state that it will not qualify I-170 for the November ballot.
The fight to expand Medicaid is not over. Montana has a variety of policy options to enact expansion. Right now city and county governments are passing resolutions supporting Medicaid expansion. Butte-Silver Bow was the first to pass a resolution. You can read more about it here.
The 2015 Legislature still had the chance to expand Medicaid and create a Montana made solution to provide 70,000 low-income Montanans with the health care they need and deserve.
The stakes were high. Montana needs Medicaid expansion, and thousands of people came together from across our state to make it happen. Montana didn’t stop until we got it done.
From our Facebook
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Healthy Montana Campaign
PO Box 1497, Helena, MT, 59624