Voices: Pending SupCo decision on ACA could leave Montanans without healthcare

Montana’s healthcare is currently under attack by an extremist lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

Under the ACA, Republicans and Democrats in Montana came together to pass Medicaid expansion. This expanded healthcare to more than 90,000 Montanans and helped our rural hospitals keep their doors open. It also added 10,000 jobs and over $1 billion dollars to the state economy.

But if this lawsuit is successful, it will have disastrous consequences for our state. Not only would it end healthcare coverage for 90,000 Montanans, it would deny protections for those with pre-existing conditions, raise healthcare costs on seniors, and close our rural hospitals.

As frontline healthcare workers in Montana, we know just how important it is to fight to protect quality, affordable healthcare. That’s why we—the Service Employees International Union SEIU 775—are endorsing Raph Graybill for Attorney General. He’s the only candidate who will go to court to defend our healthcare and protect Montanans with pre-existing conditions.

Extremist Attorneys General, motivated by partisanship, brought this lawsuit before the Supreme Court with the sole mission of dismantling the ACA and ripping away healthcare from Montanans.

Austin Knudsen, the Republican nominee for Attorney General, has backed this dangerous lawsuit from day one of his campaign. He wants to join this lawsuit as Attorney General and says it is the entire reason he decided to run for office.

In contrast, Raph Graybill will go to court to defend the ACA and protect Montanans’ healthcare. With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, access to healthcare is more important than ever for Montanans, especially for those living with a pre-existing condition or needing to access a rural hospital.

SEIU 775—which represents long-term healthcare workers across Montana—opposes any lawsuit that threatens healthcare quality, affordability, or accessibility. Especially amid a pandemic.

SEIU 775 knows the ACA is not perfect. But repealing the legislation with no replacement is not the solution. It would result in a public health catastrophe. Not only would more than 90,000 Montanans lose their coverage, but the more than 400,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions could be denied care. Approximately half of the state’s population could have their insurance ripped away because they have asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer or at one point struggled with an addiction.

Other consequences of the extremist lawsuit would be equally devastating. Thousands in our community would lose access to primary care, preventative services, and behavioral and mental healthcare. Coverage for dependents under 26 years old will be gone, and we will see the cost of prescriptions drugs and employer-backed health insurance skyrocket. Worst of all, if successful, the lawsuit will end critical funding to our rural hospitals making them more likely to close and limiting access to care for Montanans.

The anti-healthcare lawsuit is irresponsible. We must fight to keep the protections provided with the ACA and improve upon our healthcare, not dismantle it.

SEIU will continue to advocate for a healthcare system that ensures access to quality and essential healthcare services covered for all citizens. Nurses, healthcare workers, and, indeed, all Montana citizens deserve to understand the importance of the ACA and the potential impact of this lawsuit so that they can make informed decisions at the ballot box. Here, that choice is clear.

For these reasons, SEIU 775 and its healthcare workers endorse Raph Graybill for Attorney General.

Jacquie Helt, Montana State Director SEIU 775