Montana Senator Explains Republican Plan to Expand Health Coverage
Montana Governor Steve Bullock is asking legislators to expand Medicaid in the state, but Republicans are out with their own plan that won't include taking federal funds. Montana State Senate Republican Fred Thomas says that Medicaid reform is a crucial component of the plan.
"Principled into our whole proposal is that we have to [reform Medicaid]," said Thomas. "Medicaid is a system that we have to do a lot of reform and activity in, to make sure that we're getting the best value for the person that's on Medicaid, having the best outcomes that they can hope for, while doing all of those things at a lesser cost than they are today."
Thomas said Medicaid reform and tort reform are two techniques that the republican hopes to use to to cut medical costs.
The plan would also provide coverage to a variety of people below the poverty line that aren't currently covered including parents with kids, the partially disabled, and veterans in need of services delayed by the VA. Healthy adults would not get expanded coverage, Thomas says doing so would be to expensive for the state and would only disincentive work.
"The federal poverty level for an individual is $11,670 a year, below that you don't qualify for the exchanges, but if someone can build their income up to over this $11670 number then they would qualify for the exchange and generally get pretty economical insurance. That equates into either working 28 hours a week at a minimum wage job, or 19 hours a week at a $12 per hour job."
Montana is one of twenty three states that chose not to expand Medicaid after the Supreme Court decided that states could choose whether or not they wanted to opt-in to this feature of the Affordable Care Act.
Interview with Fred Thomas: