MTPR

Groups Rally For, Against Medicaid Expansion In Montana

Mar 2, 2015

Supporters of Medicaid expansion rally in Kalispell on Saturday, Feb. 28. Carrying pink, yellow and white protest signs, they wanted to make clear their support for Gov. Bullock’s Healthy Montana bill.
Credit Nathan Kosted

Governor Steve Bullock’s Medicaid expansion plan gets its first hearing at the state legislature Friday, and that has groups for and against it trying to rally support.

The Koch brothers-funded group Americans For Prosperity, or AFP, unveiled new broadcast ads targeting Montana Republican representatives.

One 30-second TV ad on AFP’s YouTube channel tells viewers: "Contact state representatives Christy Clark and Rob Cook, tell them to protect Montana taxpayers, vote no on Obama’s expansion of Medicaid."

Clark and Brown represent Choteau and Conrad, respectively.

AFP says it’s also running similar, one-minute radio ads aimed at Representatives Geraldine Custer of Forsyth, and David “Doc” Moore of Missoula. The group has not offered details on how often any of the ads will air, or on which media outlets.

This weekend dozens of people gathered in Great Falls, Missoula and Kalispell to show support for Medicaid expansion in Montana.
 
In Kalispell, a car honks in support of a handful of ralliers who gathered near Veteran’s Memorial on Saturday. Carrying pink, yellow and white protest signs, the ralliers wanted to make clear their support for Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s Healthy Montana bill.

Nathan Kosted, community organizer with Montana Human Rights Network, says so-called “dark money” from out-of-state sources, like the Koch Brothers, is unfairly criticizing what he believes is a fair health care plan.

“They were attacking citizen legislators. That got a lot of people upset in the community and around the state, and we wanted to stand up to out-of-state billionaires.”

Kosted says more than 50 people gathered in Missoula and Great Falls for similar rallies.

Both Governor Steve Bullock and Republican lawmakers want to expand healthcare coverage in Montana, but disagree on how many people to cover and how much it should cost.

Bullock’s plan would extend coverage to 70,000 low-income Montanans. Republican lawmakers rejected his proposal in 2013, concerned that federal funding would eventually run out. They’ve countered with their own Medicaid expansion bill, which would cover about 10,000 people.

Bullock’s bill get’s its first hearing at the state legislature on Friday.