That our Big Sky state refused to provide basic health care for all feels mean-spirited and uncivilized (Senate Bill 395 went down 51-49, against expanded Medicaid). The result keeps low-income folks, anyone making less than $11,490 per year, caught in a downward spiral of poverty. We can’t work because we can’t get treatment. Then ensuing struggles to get help from a broken system only foster hopelessness, depression and non-productivity, even bringing on needless death. Moreover, the people who manage to get coverage could, at any moment, due to unforeseen circumstances, suddenly be off on their own. This kind of widespread desperation leads us nowhere good.
Why is there so much attention being focused on this matter now, rather than last spring when the vote was taken? Because most people, as it turns out, are totally stunned that our legislature could actually deny readily available health care to people financially strapped. All this the result of rejecting a billion-dollar federal investment in our state. (The insurance woman who finally succeeded in explaining the implications of the vote to me said that a big part of her job now is informing incredulously shocked people why they do not qualify for affordable health care.)
As Montanans, we all need to come together, talk across party lines and discover the paths that leave no one behind.