Yesterday, the Great Falls Tribune’s Kristin Cates featured a story about one of the first Montanans that signed up for health coverage and are now starting to get health care, including Holly Blouch, a plucky young woman from Kalispell Montana who can finally get the kidney transplant she’s needed for years (You can’t get on the transplant list unless you have insurance.)
Ms. Blouch took time off from her job in the service industry time and again to travel to Helena to speak up on behalf of other Montanans across the state. Things are looking up for her now, but because Montana’s legislature refused to act sooner, Holly’s medical debt continued to pile up and reached a daunting $30,000. Holly was there for us–supporters of Medicaid expansion and patients in need of care alike. Now, she needs our help help tackling some of this crippling debt. There’s a Go Fund Me account set up. You know the Koch Brothers aren’t going to do anything about it, that’s for sure.
[Dear Holly – If you’re reading this, thanks for being a champion for Montanans. I hope you know how big a role you played in this historic victory for the people of our state.]
But things aren’t just looking up for patients like Ms. Blouch (and the 27,000 Montanans like her that the Trib reports have signed up so far.) Things are looking the economies of states that expanded Medicaid. Unpaid hospital bills across the U.S. have been slashed by billions.
But not everyone is happy that local citizens get to stay alive and that Montana’s economic engine will soon be humming with an in fusion of health care dollars in local communities across the state. Out-of-state TEA Partier groups are still outraged. Now that medicaid expansion is the law of the land, it appears they’ve decided there isn’t anything they can do except make up lies about it.
So, enraged over the success and the popularity of the program, local wing nuts have been tweeting a blog post written by a staffer from the so-called “Florida Foundation for Government Accountability” which seems to be claiming that because the program has been so successful, it is a failure and must be shut down.
Apparently, the legislature expected it would be this popular, because it made sure the budget for medicaid expansion included what is known as a “statutory appropriation” which is just a fancy way of saying that the law authorizes not a particular set amount, but whatever is required to run the program. This means that the “cost overrun” and “over budget” lie – one the group has tried in almost every expansion state won’t work here.
To be sure, Montanans knew that these TEA Partiers would start making things up like this. Remember, this Florida group is the same bunch that was the subject of a Flathead Beacon expose entitled “Who’s Pulling the Strings.” (The Bozeman Chronicle also reported on the problem.)
The group is active in several states – usually fighting against states passing Medicaid expansion as they have been in Wyoming and Tennessee.
Although given that Tennessee’s angriest Medicaid expansion opponent – a TEA Party lawmaker named Jeremy Durham, has resigned after being exposed as a “serial sexual harasser” perhaps the misinformation campaign in that state will die down a bit. The anti-expansion zealot got into trouble over “a series of revelations, including a letter he wrote on behalf of a sex offender and a drug task force investigation that led prosecutors to seek fraud charges against the lawmaker.” Republicans in that state at first stubbornly banded together and refused to oust this individual as their leader, but as more information came to light about his actions, the TEA Partier resigned last week.
You can follow Follow Kristin Cates on Twitter @GFTrib_KCates. Stay tuned.