Bullock criticizes GOP health care plan after latest analysis

An independent analysis commissioned by the Montana Healthcare Foundation found that if the current health care bill in Congress is passed as written, the state would lose $4.8 billion in federal funding and 70,000 adults would lose coverage by 2026.

The analysis, released on Wednesday, said Montana would lose its recent Medicaid expansion, which currently covers 75,000 state residents and provides more than $500 million annually in federal funding.

Losing that revenue would have dire impacts on the state’s budget, including the loss of $4.8 billion in federal Medicaid funds from 2020 to 2026, according to the analysis.

Gov. Steve Bullock again criticized the American Health Care Act after Wednesday’s release of the analysis.

“Congress is moving full speed ahead to pass legislation that will increase health-care costs for hard-working Montanans and their families, cut coverage for seniors and kids, and gut protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions,” Bullock said. “This report confirms that these proposals will have devastating impacts on Montanans and our state’s budget.”

The analysis, conducted by Manatt Health, found that the ripple effects of lost federal funding for state Medicaid could hit other parts of the state budget, including education and infrastructure. It could also create uncertainty in private-sector budgets.

In response to the federal cuts, the analysis suggests, Montana would need to cut spending by reducing eligibility, cutting reimbursement rates and eliminating benefits. Reducing spending for children, seniors and people with disabilities could also result.

“It’s time for folks in Washington, D.C., to work across the aisle to increase affordability and quality of health care across America instead of gutting Medicaid – a program that works,” Bullock said. “And they’re doing it behind closed doors.”

Marnee Banks, the communications director for Sen. Jon Tester, said a handful of Senate Republicans are moving forward with their own version of the health-care bill. However, she said, the negotiations are only open to Republicans and are taking place behind closed doors, with no hearings and no transparency.

In comparison, she said, the Affordable Care Act saw 160 hours of debate on the Senate floor before it was passed in 2010. It also included more than 47 bipartisan committee meetings and saw 11 amendments offered by Republicans.

Earlier this week, Tester asked Matt Rosendale, the state’s insurance commissioner, to provide transparency and an honest explanation to Montanans about why they might face higher health insurance costs this year.

“Your office plays a lynchpin role in ensuring Montanans do not pay more than a reasonable rate for their health coverage,” Tester wrote in his letter to Rosendale. “I encourage you to use your position to provide Montanans with as much transparency as possible so we can make sound decisions on how best to make quality health care more affordable.”