Rep. Austin Knudsen, who gave the GOP response to Steve Bullock’s blockbuster State of the State address two nights ago, has collected over $700,000 in cash from federal farm subsidies. But in his speech, Knudsen adamantly refused to support an expansion of Medicaid, which would allow struggling Montanans to get medical care which they cannot now afford.
Knudsen’s told the state on Wednesday that “Republican’s are concerned about Federal funding.” He said, ”we can’t put Montanans at risk by building a budget that over relies on the federal government…After all: it’s not our money. It belongs to the people of Montana.”
Knudsen was arguing that Montana should reject the opportunity to reduce costs and expand access to health care for nearly 70,000 more Montanans by rejecting the opportunity to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid.
As Governor Bullock explained, the opportunity to provide this access to Medicaid (called Access Health Montana) will create thousands of new jobs-13,000 in the next few years-by bringing millions of dollars of new economic activity to Montana.
Several states with Republican Governors have already opted in, including: Arizona (yes, Governor Jan Brewer is supporting it), Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota (statistically the most conservative state in America). Only a handful of states have refused the opportunity altogether.
By the way, State Rep. Keith Regier, another proud ultra-conservative who runs around Montana railing against excessive spending and the evils of “too much government”, has collected $380,000. Regier once compared women to cattle, in the context of abortion.