TEA Party Leader Leaves Door to Medicaid Expansion Open

The statements of disgraced Tea Partier Art Wittich [pronounced “WIT-ick!”] reveal a major shift in TEA Party rhetoric about the Medicaid expansion in an article in the Bozeman Chronicle this weekend.

Rather than close the door completely on any kind of Medicaid expansion, as Wittich has done in the past, the former Senate GOP leader told the Bozeman Chronicle that he is “not opposed to negotiating a Medicaid expansion program” but that his version would look different than what has been proposed by Democrats.  By doing so, Wittich is signaling that conservatives have moved on from a single-minded focus on blocking health care for the working poor. This is a major shift and an interesting development in the discussion.  It shows Wittich is willing to publicly admit that conservatives may no longer simply refuse to move forward.

To be sure, in the same article Wittich was again caught lying many times about the Medicaid expansion and how it is paid for, saying he opposes how it is funded.  So he must be called out for these lies once again.  He’s entitled to his own opinion, but not his own version of the facts. 

First, Wittich tries to claim that, “Medicaid was never supposed to be an insurance program. It was meant to provide services to disabled people.”

Fact:  Medicaid provides health coverage to children, seniors, pregnant women, babies, and parents in every state. Able-bodied childless adults have been eligible for Medicaid coverage in other states for decades, thanks to the major Medicaid initiative of the George H.W. Bush administration.

This initiative, called the Health Insurance Flexibility and Accountability (HIFA) initiative or HIFA Waiver program, was created by the Bush administration in 2001 and has been used in many states to provide full basic healthcare coverage to childless non-disabled adults.

The next lie Wittich tells is that “community health centers are funded differently [than Medicaid expansion] eliminating the fear that federal government debt would force states to pay increasingly large shares of the Medicaid program.”

Fact: The federal government has never cut Medicaid support for states.

This is a lie that Wittich has used several times, and it has several times been disproven.  First, the Washington Post has explained that the federal government cutting support for Medicaid would be an “unprecedented” move, as the government has only increased its share of expenditures since the program’s inception and has never reduced them below their original percentage:

There is one time the federal government did fiddle with funding levels, in the late 2000s. That, which you can see in the [below] chart, was to increase their share of Medicaid spending during the recession.


I know that Wittich does not like being fact checked by this blog.  It’s probably why he’s attacked my blog in public speeches.  However Wittich did not dispute the facts of any of my posts, rather he tried to attack me personally by flatly proclaiming that I’m not a woman, that I’m not a Montanan and that I “don’t know anything about cows.”  Why he thinks this is beyond me.

But I do know that politicians who lie put their reputations and careers at risk when their lies are exposed. Perhaps he’s still worried that if he sticks to the facts people aren’t going to be pleased with his and Jason Priest’s actions to block health care for 70,000 working poor Montanans. Perhaps he’s worried about the thousands of Medicaid expansion ballot initiative signers who vote in this district.  Perhaps for these reasons he is now leaving the door open for Medicaid expansion, in some form or another, to move forward.

Both Wittich and Priest were senate leaders during the last session – but neither will be back in the senate.  Wittich will be running for house, while Priest faces felony partner and family member assault charges.


17 Comments on "TEA Party Leader Leaves Door to Medicaid Expansion Open"

  1. So many facts, so little comprehension.

  2. Wittich is a fraud and a liar and faces being thrown off the ballot for his illegal coordination with American Traditions Partnership in the meth house scandal. That guy is involved in the plot to take over the Supreme Court and purge his own party of moderate republicans. His firm was also ATP’s legal council and leaked documents show him plotting with Jason priest and Jeff Essmann against members of his own party.

    He is expected to run for a leadership position in the Montana house- against some of the very republicans he fought against when he was in the senate. This is going to be a fight to watch.

  3. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | September 10, 2014 11:13 AM at 11:13 AM |

    Jumpeeeeeen JEEBUS! And these dufus christofascist billionaires are now in Montana! Buyin’ up the state! Jesus take the wheel………….of our great state!
    Scary stuff.


  4. Some of us who sided with the GOP for fiscal reasons are questioning that wisdom. The reason to support Medicare in this state is simple: can you or your grandma do without it? Didn’t think so. Here’s the GOP in me: let’s dig into the data and figure out why the U.S. spends so much on medical care and gets so little. is that a tedious and boring task? Yes, it is. Will what we find match our talking points? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s what a real Republican does.

    • In not so many words.

      Because Health Care and Health Insurance are both a for maximum profit business.

      Now there isn’t anything wrong with a for profit business model, it is just that these 2 are at odds with good health care decisions and outcomes.

  5. You missed the biggest lie that he said. It is “Wittich said he thinks most people who get on Medicaid are childless, able-bodied adults who shouldn’t be getting free health care.”
    He provides no indication as to what this statement is based on. Going to the DPHHS Web Site shows, doing some adding that about 37,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 are eligible for Medicaid. About 96,000 thousand under 18 and over 65 are eligible. Do not know what math Wittich is using to show that 37,000 is most of 133,000 eligible individuals.
    Reference page 11 on http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/statisticalinformation/Enrollments-Quarterly.pdf

  6. From the Bozeman Chronicle article above- the reporter proves Wittich is wrong, writing :

    Today there are approximately 145,000 Montanans covered by Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids. About three quarters of those (107,000) are children. Approximately another 12 percent are blind or disabled, and 5 percent are the elderly aged 65 or older, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

  7. ‘Witless’ clearing PANDERING for votes, and doing bait and switch on healthcare……..did he find ‘religion’ or what?

    • Wittich clearly blows with the political winds of 40-300 years ago – but at least now he has come to terms with the fact that his tiny faction of hardcore ideologues is too far out of touch to see the light of day. Even though he has come closer to the right side for the wrong reasons – for his own self interest rather than altruism–I’ll take it.

  8. Cowgirl never forgets to remind us that is was a key and critical vote by a Democrat that stopped Medicaid expansion in Montana. Because that’s how Democrats roll, pretending to be one thing but when it comes right down to it, really being something else.

    Oh wait. Cowgirl does forget to remind us of that. She (or he or they) are Democrats, pretending to be one thing, really being something else.

    The Democratic Party: Where movement politics goes to die.

  9. About the Medicaid voting mishap, it would be very helpful if you named the one Democrat -Tom Jacobson of Great Falls as the person that screwed up the voting on insurance expansion for Montana. It is not helpful to paint everyone with a broad brush when the answers to our challenges require a level of specificity in identifying what we are going after.

    Amanda’s day 83 video covers what happened that day.

  10. Wittich, just keep playing your tea party politics while women like me will eventually die from lack of health care. I am very sick. I had planned to move to WA where they expanded, turns out I can’t afford that either.

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