Posted: Mar 30, 2013 4:07 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Mar 30, 2013 4:22 PM
The Montana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has endorsed Medicaid expansion if the Legislature agrees to reform the system.
As one of the most influential lobbying organizations, the Chamber's support of expanding and reforming the state's government run health insurance program could have a strong impact on Republicans who have been vocal opponents to Medicaid expansion.
On Thursday, the Chamber's Board threw its support behind expanding Medicaid and issued this statement:
"The Montana Chamber of Commerce supports Medicaid expansion with reform that entails moving to privately managed health care for the current and new population, incorporates the collection of health care data, utilizes the health care data to monitor the financial sustainability of the program, and supports a select committee. The Montana Chamber of Commerce commits to continually review expansion and reform and will re-evaluate our position no later than July 1, 2015."
Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) has been pushing the Montana Legislature to pass his Access Health Montana plan which includes Medicaid expansion. However, last week Republicans on the House Human Services committee killed Bullock's bill.
"We have the incredible opportunity to create nearly 13,000 jobs while providing access to affordable healthcare for 70,000 Montanans. I'm glad the Chamber is joining us in making this a reality," Bullock said in a statement on Friday.
Also last week, Republicans on the Senate Public Health committee voted against two other plans to expand Medicaid. Due to procedural rules, SB 393 and SB 395 still have a chance on the Senate floor next week. It's unknown if the Chamber's support will help sway some Republicans to vote to keep these bills alive.
There is one other bill which is still in play and could be used to expand Medicaid. HB 623 currently doesn't contain Medicaid expansion but it does revise health insurance laws. Some lawmakers are saying this bill could be amended to include expansion and reform all in one package.
For a complete look at the Montana Chamber of Commerce's statement, click here.