Cleaning Up the TEA Party’s Messes

Montana’s Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen is on the road this week, answering questions and clearing up myths about the Affordable Care Act.  She’s also  helping people find out about the new ways they can save money under the Affordable Care Act, which goes into place today.  Lindeen is to be commended for being the only elected leader in Montana with the backbone to go out on the stump to clear up the myths about Obamacare, which is still very unpopular because of all the misinformation spewed by the TEA Party.

The TEA Party has poured millions into scaring seniors and Veterans with bogus claims about how the new health care reforms would take away their Medicare or VA coverage. (Which is a pretty despicable way to win elections, if you think about it.)  So Lindeen is driving from town to town, reassuring audiences packed with worried seniors and families. She’s explaining that anyone who has Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, Healthy Montana Kids, or health care through their job, isn’t impacted and doesn’t even have to do anything.  She’s also explaining that the costs for an average health plan you can get at the new “marketplace” will be lower than they have been. (It’s just a website to make buying insurance easier).

Lindeen points out that insurance costs in Montana will be lower than they are now on average, and explains the new protections in place that make it harder for insurance companies to screw people over.  She’s even launched a new website, where you can ask any question you’d like and get straight answers.

Art Wittich, sick and tired of serving the public.

Yet even as the truth is starting to get out about the consumer protections that are in place–and savings that are now available for more than 3/4 of Montanans, the stream of lies continues.  TEA Party legislator Art Wittich (R-Bozeman) has poked his head out of his bunker to spread fear and misinformation about health care reform. In a guest opinion in the Great Falls Tribune Wittich claimed that the new reforms will make health care more expensive.

In fact, the cost of insurance under the new law will be lower in Montana than it is now for an average plan.  Here’s a list of average “premiums” or monthly costs for insurance in Montana and other states. 

Anyone can now go to the marketplace at to find out what kind of plans are out there and whether they qualify for a price break or are eligible for Medicaid at the Marketplace, However, since Wittich and crew voted to bar the working poor from getting Medicaid, there aren’t many people who will be able to access it–even though the federal government would have paid for 100% of the bill for three years and would always pay at least 90% of the cost.

Wittich also tried to downplay the problem of the large numbered of uninsured Montanans.   He’s claiming that only 15% of Montanans lack insurance instead of 22%, which has been published by multiple sources/studies.

Wittich even had the audacity to claim that the Affordable Care Act “doesn’t address the problem” of people who visit emergency rooms instead of seeking less costly preventative care, which drives up the cost of health care for everyone.  In fact, it was Wittich himself who lead the charge in the Montana legislature to block access to low-cost preventative and primary care for 70,000 working poor Montanans when he blocked federal funds for the Medicaid expansion in Montana.  It is because of Wittich and his fellow GOP lawmakers that emergency room visits will still be a problem.  Many people will have no other choice but to wait until they are sick enough to risk imminent loss of life or limb to be admitted to an emergency room without paying up front. If Montana had the Medicaid expansion, 91% of Montanans would be able to get preventative health care.  Waiting until they’re about to die and going to the emergency room wouldn’t be their only option.  You can sign a petition in support of the Medicaid expansion to indicate your support.

Wittich also left out some pretty important information from his opinion piece– the latest industry report  showing that states that denied the Medicaid expansion would lose billions in federal funding, and medical employers $1 billion for programs that partially compensate them for care for people who can’t pay.  (This report doesn’t mesh well with the TEA Party message, which as far as I can tell is “Obama BAD, Hulk SMASH.”)

Of course, this is to be expected from Wittich, who lied about health care during the legislative session too. Wittich, who is among the state’s most angry TEA partiers, was a lawyer for the ultra-shady American Tradition Partnership (which ignored Montana Law on the way to buying house and Senate seats for Tea partiers and printed fake newspapers with Governor Bullock’s photo in a line-up with sex offenders).  Wittich is also a featured speaker and former Attorney for the Koch brothers funded group Americans for Prosperity.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is open

Lee Newspapers had a great in-depth insert over the weekend, which you should definitely check out.  This article explains the basics of the new protections and how to find out if they can help you save money. More than 75% of Montanans are expected to be eligible for some kind of price break–people who earn between 100-400% of the federal poverty level.  You can use this calculator to find out if you’re eligible for savings:

You can now enroll in a health insurance plan that covers essential benefitspre-existing conditions, and preventive services. Most people who apply for coverage will qualify for lower costs of some kind in the Marketplace.  If you are someone who would have qualified for Medicaid in Montana if the legislature had voted for expansion, you won’t have to pay the individual mandate–you can get an application for the affordability exemption on

  • Apply now. Start your application for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can apply for private insurance, CHIP (Healthy Montana Kids), and Medicaid, all at the same time, all with one application.

4 things you can do before you apply

  1. Find out how the Marketplace works.
  2. Learn how to choose the health insurance plan that’s right for you.
  3. Get personal help applying for health coverage.
  4. Ask any questions you have about the Marketplace by phone or live web chat-both are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

44 Comments on "Cleaning Up the TEA Party’s Messes"

  1. The extreme right GOP don’t want us to be protected, insured, educated or employed but they do want us all to have guns…think about that.

    Imagine if Democrats had done to Reagan, what these thugs did today? Shut down the Government, throw almost a million federal workers under the bus, force law enforcement to go without pay? Kill the economies of little towns in Montana that count on those tourism dollars to get by each year from national parks. Why shouldn’t Democrats refuse to vote for the debt limit until we get a single payer system option for all Americans?

    Because democrats know, that is not the way democracy and our Constitution works. You win elections in order to repeal bills. The nation votes for the agenda they want, and that was Barack Obama’s vision not Romney and Ryan. You don’t crash the government when you don’t have the votes and lose.

    The fact you gop lost and was out voted is inimical to the very heart and soul of the democratic process. (p.s. I repeat, Teaparty Repugnuts, you didn’t win the last national elections the Democrats did).

    Obamacare is the law of the Land not a bill you want to repeal, because you didn’t get your way in the last election. or the fact you didn’t get a white president. And it has nothing to do with funding the government cleanly, our paying our bills on time!

    The right wing is simply an evil and putrid cancer on America, and Montana today. A nattering, paranoid bunch of aging white rednecks and Palin clones without a clue about what the constitution means, how to govern, how to compromise, create a stronger America, fix problems or run an economy.

    The word “Delusional” comes to mind every day, the minute they open up their mouths to make up their own science, facts and alternate universe like they were on the back-lot of a movie studio…..and the RW hates our national government as badly as Al Qaeda does now…..they have been a travesty of disaster in power and out.

    We’d have the economy back by now if not for their 7 manufactured crises since 2010 and ill-advised cuts. How patriotic does that make them????


    We need to put the electoral lights out of these sick evil TP cretins once and for all…..Vote all tea-billies like Daines out, Idiots who proudly said they wanted to shut the government down… then lets us as Montanans, show our beloved countryside, we know how to help put America back on the road to prosperity and success without destroying families, leaving children sick and hungry, and killing the environment and our heritage of hunting, in search of profits that don’t include the workers, only the shareholders.

    We can do it responsibly, with a center right moderate Conservative that’s not wacky, or a Democrat . If not, these right fringe hillbillies are going to wreck the country, again, just like they did under Bush junior.

    The choice is yours, to change stupidity by your 2014, and 2016 vote. I suggest you all use that incredible right next time, to change Montana and the USA for the better!

    • So what do you think needs to be done with all these evil, nattering, paranoid bunch of aging white rednecks and Palin clones?

  2. I knew the Democrats would be doing a heavy push for this crappy bill. Better we had no “reform” than this. A relative, age 30, this morning bragged on Facebook that he’s paying $208 a month for a policy with a $7,500 deductible PLUS another $2,400 out of pocket for office visits. That means that he will pay $9,996-$12,396 per year up front before his insurance company pays $1. Since he doesn’t have enough savings to cover that, he is seriously under-insured. And happy about it.

    That’s what you guys have done to us – you’ve given us crap and called it Shinola. We needed reform, single payer was on the way, and your leaders stepped in and stopped it. Now your job is to manage perceptions, make it seem like something good happened. Not only is our nation under-informed, but also soon to be under-insured.

  3. I’m wondering as I answer your comment whether you have blocked my address again, you silly people.

    You are wrong. There is no limit on out-of-pocket expenses. Further, companies are free to put many expenses outside the policy, such as office visits. What you read you misread. It was a summary of offerings from 2010. I just spent my morning on the Colorado Exchange. Out-of-pockets vary widely but generally the insurance companies want us all to be as under-insured as possible.

    You are a black/white thinker, it appears. I regard the Democrats and GOP as two sides of the same coin, each like the other but managing the perceptions of different constituencies. Given a choice between the two, I choose Ecuador.

    • Cowgirls is right and again you’re wrong Mark! The new law limits out of pocket expenses to $6000 for individuals for all plans purchased through the marketplace. . she posted the link that proves that…. you have posted just your opinion.

      • The ACA is not a bill anymore. it is written Law. passed by congress, passed by the senate, signed by the president, upheld by the supreme court. Mark


        This is why it has not been able to be overturned. Like medicare, medicaid and social security it will be implemented. like car seat belt laws, and safety standards it will save lives.

        The only death panels I see, are the 80 or so republicans in congress trying to destroy health care access to the poor….. just like you!

        • This is Tokarkski?! Arghhh- get a life man-

        • Go to a fricking exchange, fer crying out loud!

          The very first 1st item in the Colorado Exchange is United Health One, Annual Deductible, $10,000, Max out-of-pocket $3,000, physician and specialist office visits not covered. The premium for me would be $227 per month, so that before they paid $1 in any given eyar, I would be out-of-pocket $15,724 including premium. “Out-of-pocket,” as CG referred to it above, is $13,000 + cost of any office visits.

          Cowgirl, you are spreading misinformation. You hold yourself out as a knowledgeable source. Please correct your mistake and inform your followers of it as well.

          • Attention Mark this is Montana not Colorado, and we have the Federal marketplace, not the Colorado exchange. you need to direct you questions about why your healthcare is so high to State officials in Colorado. not us okay?

            • All insurance policies are the same, and do not differ company-to-company. Within states, certain mandated coverages might affect premium. Where price differences arise, it is due to the nature of coverage. Insurance companies do not compete with each other. They can’t. Incentives are perverse.

              Now, factual material: Cowgirl stated categorically that max out-of-packet was $6,000, not in Montana, but everywhere. That is not true.

              • In2it,
                You are full of shit. Not all insurance polices are the same. Mine is much different than my spouse’s and my son’s-three different policies, and the language contained therein is not even close to the next. Maybe you are getting some of that good Colorado medical cannabis and it is doing wonders for what you read and see!

                • Norma, you just re-posted a survey of 2010 premiums that found $6,000 as a medium out-of-pocket. Cowgirl took that to mean that $6,000 was maximum out of pocket. She was wrong. There is no such regulation nor is any such thing part of the law. You are thick as a brick outhouse. Go away.

                  Richard, I doubt it. You’re making that up. It’s illogical. Companies all have to align their coverages to prevent imbalances that would draw certain persons with expensive illnesses to one and not the others. That scares them, which is why they are effectively a cartel.

                  Different premium levels for different ages, smokers, higher/lower deductibles? Of course, but uniform premiums from company to company within each state. They do not engage in price competition. Why should they. They are a cartel. Do you get a better deal form Sprint than Verizon? No more than United Versus BCBS.

  4. Never mind Mr Wittich is eligible for Montana taxpayer-provided health insurance as a representative.

  5. Mark has succeeded in moving the discussion away from the ant-Obamacare govt shutdown by littering this site with misinformation about the law. He might not consider himself a Teabagger but he’s definitely on their side.

    The real issue is what are we going to do about the Republican thugs who’re trying to ruin our country so they can delegitimize a black president. We may need to refight the Civil War, I hope without outright violence.

    • I am trying to get Democrats to focus on factual material. It is so frustrating with you people in that you automatically rubber stamp anything your leadership does. Cowgirl above was the perfect example, touting Obamacare without even knowing the details. That’s shameful.

      The shutdown, the harping about Obamacare – I can’t begin to understand it other than knowing that since it is politics we are only seeing surface phenomena. You Democrats are incensed at the Republicans, as your leadership wants you to be. Something else is going on behind the scenes, but since you are not diligent citizens, you’ll be the last to know what it is. I do not know either, but am watching closely. distraction is always for a reason.

      • In2it,
        “I am trying to get Democrats to focus on factual material”. Most of us have been listening to the lies from Cruz, et al for days and from the rest of you whiners. We are trying to to get you and your cohorts to stop the lying and mis-information campaign and move forward instead of continually sticking your head in your ass which does nothing for forward motion.

        • Again, your comments are evidence-free. You don’t seem to be well-versed in insurance and health care, and are up to your ears in faith in your party. That’s a problem – blind followers. It’s apparent in both parties.

          Access to health care has never been a problem in the upper reaches of our society, but the model, private insurance, is held together by government glue at its weak points, access by seniors and the poor, who are unprofitable. The free enterprise model, which only exists on chalk boards, cannot provide expensive products to poor people. In the muddled minds of its adherents, it has to be the fault of the poor, who are left to die. The same for us seniors, but we are mostly financially better off and white, and so have enough clout that Medicare came into being.

          Obama was hired to step in and save the private insurance model, and he did it in old-school fashion, massive subsidy.

  6. Mark says: I am trying to get Democrats to focus on factual material.

    I say: When you find real facts, Mark, instead of making up codswallop….. get back to us

    • Norma, you’re like a cancer, injecting yourself into every exchange, hurling insults, avoiding thoughtful remarks. You are the face of this blog, which is why it appears so chaotic and unreadable to most who pass by. I have an idea, and I am serious: Start your own blog, gather your thoughts in the manner of posts, and allow free exchange of ideas without censorship. If you work it hard, you might have some traffic. If you study the issues, form your own thoughts rather than repeating talking points, it might even be interesting.

      • Well if it isn’t the banned guy trying to tell the person whos never been banned here…… 4 times like You have, how to comment on a Blog?

        Look in the Mirror Mark and remember to say that to the duffus staring back. Your the least Qualified at telling me how to comment…

        • Misplaced capitalization?
          Inappropriate number of ellipses?
          Misuse of “Your”? (Should be “You’re”)?

          Am I qualified to critique your comments? Because it hardly seems that you are qualified to respond … MT is correct this much: you are one of the main reasons I hardly comment here any more. You are defensive, offensive, arrogant, self-absorbed and completely convinced that any small disagreement with you is a slight against humanity as a whole. Would you please, for theluva Dog, knock it off? You don’t have to respond to absolutely everything written on this site. Really, truly, ya’ don’t.

  7. Lindeen for senate or congress-seriously she is already doing the job of our senators and she actually cares about people. I would vote for her over any of the others that have expressed interest so far- she’s actually got name recognition too.

    • I agree, Jan. I look forward to seeing her in Kalispell tomorrow. And Norma? Yes. “Norma Duffy The extreme right GOP don’t want us to be protected, insured, educated or employed but they do want us all to have guns…think about that.” Your quote from Cowgirl. I agree.

      Since most of the Congress don’t ever have to work again, they don’t much understand the rest of us. Nor do they listen, and with the shutdown, we can’t even call our local Congressional offices. Guess our representatives’ office staff are non-essential services. Try it. The only way to reach Tester, Baucus, or Daines is email to their Washington websites. Do it. Flood their email & phones.

      • Niaomi Klien wrote a book on the “shock doctrine” over five years ago, and damn if the GOP are not delivering on it, by manufacturing crises….

        The best explanation out there is Jonathan Chait’s
        “In January, demoralized House Republicans retreated to Williamsburg, Virginia, to plot out their legislative strategy for President Obama’s second term. Conservatives were angry that their leaders had been unable to stop the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on high incomes, and sought assurances from their leaders that no further compromises would be forthcoming. The agreement that followed, which Republicans called “The Williamsburg Accord,” received obsessive coverage in the conservative media but scant attention in the mainstream press. (The phrase “Williamsburg Accord” has appeared once in the Washington Post and not at all in the New York Times.)
        But the decision House Republicans made in January has set the party on the course it has followed since. If you want to grasp why Republicans are careening toward a potential federal government shutdown, and possibly toward provoking a sovereign debt crisis after that, you need to understand that this is the inevitable product of a conscious party strategy.”

  8. Just got home from the Great Falls Town Hall that Monica Lindeen organized and was struck by a couple of things. First, Monica is very knowledgable – she provided information on a level that was useful to real people – none of the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo you typically hear from government employees. Second, after she spoke, one guy stood up and asked for a show of hands in the room if people were glad that Obamacare (as he called it) the Affordable Care Act was the law of the land. Most people raised their hands.

  9. Finally, unlike Scumbag Steve Daines – this was a true public meeting – the audience wasn’t packed with democrats – it was full of people who were scared about what this would mean for their health care – people who left knowing more and getting some real information for once – people who were helped. There are leaders and there are politicians. Lindeen is a leader.

    • Also, not a single person from Tester or Baucus’s office was there. Kind of shameful, given that this is a federal law…

      • Actually, it doesn’t surprise me that no one from any of the Congressmen’s offices were there. They are suppose to be in Washington turning the government back on.

  10. “While Republican opposition has hinged on the new healthcare law, Grayson also accused Republicans of wanting to roll back other public health programs, such as the mandate requring emergency rooms to provide health care for patients unable to pay for their services.

    “When you talk to them privately, what you find is that if they could repeal Medicare they would,” Grayson argued to Salon. “If they could repeal Medicaid they would. They are literally offended by the idea that people would get the care they need to stay healthy or alive even though they can’t afford it. They regard it as some kind of crime against nature.”

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  12. Seems as if Ezra Klein has called the Obamacare roll out a complete failure.
    For Klein, a noted Obama cheerleader and apologist, to attack this hot mess is rather revealing. Now, why would a year delay be so bad to work out the kinks?

    • Okey-dokey then. We are supposed to buy the Ad Hominem that young Mr. Klein is a *noted* Obama lurver and hence has no credibility. Then we are supposed to think him immanently credible for calling the roll-out of Obamacare a “complete failure”, which isn’t what he did.

      There you have it, folks. We should submit to the demands of the hostage takers because the incredible Ezra Klein pointed out that untested software doesn’t scale.

      Craig, in case you missed it, this nation does not negotiate with terrorists (unless you follow the lead of Ronald Reagan.) Putting off implementation for a year might, might mind you, lead to more robust software. But it is evident that concern doesn’t mean anything to the current House of Representatives. They want re-election and additional support when the Senate goes Republican after the loser in the White House caves to their demands that the country fall. Two questions: What makes you think that one year will bring improvement to technical issues, and why do you hate this country so much that you would rather it burn down than actually solve problems?

      • Rob, it’s been my observation that most progressives, and Montana leftie blogs, worship at Klein’s feet. Now he went on to say at his blog–

        What didn’t the White House know and when didn’t they know it? In the months before the launch almost every senior member of the Obama administration had a little calendar board tacked up in a prominent spot in their office. “75 days until Obamacare” it would say. The next morning they would tear off the page. “74 days until Obamacare” it would say. The message — to them and to their visitors — was clear: This was the White House’s top priority.

        We’re now negative 14 days until the Affordable Care Act and most people still can’t purchase insurance. The magnitude of this failure is stunning. Yes, the federal health-care law is a complicated project, government IT rules are a mess, and the scrutiny has been overwhelming. But the Obama administration knew all that going in. They should’ve been able to build an online portal that works.

        Early on, President Obama like to compare the launch of the Affordable Care Act to Apple launching a new product. Can you imagine how many people Steve Jobs would’ve fired by now if he’d launched a new product like this?

        So is anybody going to be held accountable? Is anybody going to be fired? Will anyone new be brought in to run the cleanup effort? Does the Obama administration know what went wrong, and are therr real plans to find out?

        What’s abundantly clear to anyone who reported on the run-up to the federal health-care law’s launch is that the White House had no idea how badly the Web site would perform. They expected problems. But the full extent of the disaster was either obscured or ignored. Heads should roll for that. Changes should be made because of that.

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