Carl Graham, executive Director of the Koch brothers’-funded Montana Policy Institute, published a guest opinion in the Great Falls Tribune last week so riddled with factual errors that he should probably go ahead and resign.
Graham wants state lawmakers to reject the federal government’s offer to cover 100% of the costs of providing health care to 57,000 uninsured low-income Montanans. There is no good reason to block the federal government from helping Montanans who can’t afford health care. As the Montana Hospital Association told a legislative panel this week, Montana is paying taxes anyway. And if the state rejects the federal funds, our tax dollars will simply go to provide access to health care to people in other states.
Here are some of the lies and misinformation Graham is peddling across the state.
GRAHAM: Graham wants us to believe that Governor Steve Bullock went too far by supporting the new Medicaid eligibility standards, claiming that the former governor and fellow Democrat Brian Schweitzer had rejected them.
FACT: Graham may not be the budget analyst he’d like us to think he is, but I for one never believed that he couldn’t read. Here are at least five major newspaper stories reporting on Schweitzer’s plans to adopt the new eligibility standards to allow the federal government to get health care for Montanans in need. Bullock’s not doing anything outrageous. He’s simply doing what’s right.
GRAHAM: Next, Graham wants us to believe that adopting the new Medicaid eligibility standards wouldn’t really help that many people. He claims that most of the people who will sign up for Medicaid are people who are eligible already but haven’t signed up because they don’t need health care.
FACT: That’s simply wrong. A report by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services shows that the population who will receive coverage when Montana adopts the news standards will include 55,000 newly eligible adults –people are aren’t already eligible–and 2,000 children who are eligible for Medicaid now but weren’t yet signed up. You don’t have to be a budget think tank director to figure out that 2,000 is not the “vast majority” of 55,000.
GRAHAM: Graham and other hardline GOP-ers are looking for an excuse to explain why they’re standing in the way of the 57,000 Montanans who will finally have access to health care under Medicaid. Graham repeats the standard excuse: fear that federal government will fail to follow through on its commitment to fund 90% of the coverage. Graham says Montana should postpone the decision to participate indefinitely, saying the state shouldn’t take part in a program it might later have to fund at a greater rate than 10%.
FACT: This may be his worst idea yet. States are able to drop out of the new Medicaid standards at any time if they choose to participate initially. The state can even choose to drop out in three years after the federal government stops paying 100% of the cost of coverage. To wait to participate until after the federal government stops paying for 100% of the coverage makes no sense.