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Republican Medicaid Expansion Plan Blasted To Senate Floor

Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Matthew Rosendale.
Montana Legislature

A Senator from Great Falls successfully blasted his bill to provide health insurance for the working poor to the full Senate for debate Thursday.

Senate Bill 405 already has had two committee hearings, but  the sponsor is worried a deadline could kill his bill.

That's because there is a Tuesday deadline to transmit appropriation and revenue bills from one chamber to the other.

 So Senator Ed Buttrey , the sponsor of  the HELP Act, made the motion to bring his bill from the Senate Finance and Claims Committee to the floor for debate.

Senate Majority Leader Matt Rosendale spoke against the motion.

  "I'm quite disappointed after 63 days," said Rosendale.  "Following a strict procedural process and giving every Senator and every piece of legislation equal treatment and equal consideration that through no one's fault but the sponsor's to have a bill hearing late last night delayed only through the sponsor's actions."

In response, Buttrey says the Finance and Claims Committee did not take executive action on his bill last night or this morning.

The Republican from Great Falls is worried time is running out and that is the only reason why he made the motion.

"There are going to be complex amendments on the floor both by folks in the body and by myself," said Buttrey. "Without this motion there are simply isn't time for us to hear the bill and get a chance to vote to meet transmittal."

The Senate voted 28-to-22 in favor of the motion.

Under the bill, the state would accept the Medicaid expansion money under the Affordable Care Act

  Buttrey calls his HELP Act a compromise bill that blends heath insurance and job training. There are also co-pays and premiums for participants. The HELP Act is intended for the working poor who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy insurance through the ACA's Marketplace.

Senate Bill 405 is scheduled for debate on the Senate floor Friday.

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