by Linda Gryczan, Helena Hotflash
Rep Art Wittich, (R-Bozeman), chair of House Human Services, called the committee back early from spring break to hear SB 405 by Sen Ed Buttrey, (R-Gt Falls), the compromise Medicaid Expansion bill. Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, hospitals, business leaders and local government lined up to appeal to the Republicans on the committee.
“The fact is that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Your job is to set aside your bitterness and take up the reality of the opportunity that is here before you, right here, right now. The principles in 405 are conservative Republican principles. I respectfully implore you not to be so blinded by anger that you fail in your duty.”
Lewis & Clark County Commissioner Susan Good Geise
In a clearly prearranged maneuver, committee Republicans introduced a series of amendments designed to kill the bill. Over objections from the Dems, they amended Bullock’s Medicaid Expansion bill—a bill they killed just weeks before, and amended it into SB 405. They required hospitals to report on the amount of uncompensated care, then turned the bill into a referendum, before voting it down.
The Dems cried foul. SB 405 was a bipartisan compromise. It had been agreed before the hearing that a “silver bullet” would bring the bill up on the House floor. Amending the compromise legislation violated this agreement.
“In Montana a deal and a handshake matters and your word means something. These motions, these amendments, they lack integrity,
they subvert the process that we put into place.”
Rep Ellie Hill, (D-Missoula)
“It seems to escape the members of the committee that people are dying
[without medical care]…This is nothing more than games and trickery—
schemes to bypass any kind of governance by two parties.”
Rep Carolyn Pease-Lopez, (D-Billings)
“We are continuing on this bastardization process that needs to come to an end…
I’m going to have to vote no on any part of this circus.”
Rep Tom Jacobson, (D-Gt Falls)
“The people who testified today believed they were testifying in good faith and the whole time you had a substitute bill. I don’t know how you can look these people in the face. And how you can look the sponsor in the face. And the Republicans and Democrats who both agreed on this compromise.”
Rep Ellie Hill, (D-Missoula)
At 5:00 the House went into session and Minority leader Chuck Hunter, (D-Helena), objected to the adverse committee report for SB 405. Speaker Austin Knudsen, (R-Culbertson), overruled. Rep Hunter continued to object. Tomorrow the rules committee will take up the matter.
Do not let them get away with using parliamentary trickery to deny health care to 70,000 Montanans.
Rally at 11:30 on Wednesday, April 8 on the Capitol steps.
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Call: (406) 444-4800, your message will be taken to their desk.
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