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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Senators Split On Obamacare Repeal Vote

U.S. Capitol
flickr user Tim Evanson (CC-BY-SA-2)
U.S. Capitol

Montana’s senators split on yesterday’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the first time the Senate has voted to repeal the law since it passed five years ago. The House has voted to repeal it dozens of times, and is expected to confirm the Senate vote soon. The bill faces certain veto by President Obama, a veto Republicans don’t have the votes to override.

Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines says for him, the vote was keeping a promise he made since campaigning for Senate in 2014 to completely repeal the health care law. He compared the law to a tangled fly fishing line.

"Sometimes you can take time, you can untangle it and make another cast. But other times your line becomes so tangled up and knotted up that the option is to cut the line and start over."

Democrat Jon Tester, though, defended the law, which has given tens of thousands of Montanans access to lower-priced health coverage.

"There are folks in Congress whose top priority is eliminating access to healthcare for tens of thousands of Montanans. Instead of playing political games with the health of our families, I’ll continue working to improve the ACA to reduce the cost of healthcare for all Montanans."

Repealing the health care law would include ending the expansion of Medicaidthat Montana lawmakers approved this year. That’s set to go into effect January first. So far, more than 10,000 Montanans have signed up for expanded Medicaid coverage.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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