By Michael Noyes
HELENA – On Wednesday Republican state lawmakers rolled out a series of proposals designed to block implementation of last year’s federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Montana.
At a capitol press conference, Republican lawmakers said the health care legislation, dubbed “Obamacare” by opponents, would increase costs and lose jobs.
“Free markets are the true jobs creators,” said House Majority Leader Tom McGillvray. “Simply put, this health care act is unaffordable.”
Republican charges were immediately countered by state Democrats. Prior to the 11 a.m. press conference by Republicans, the state Democratic Party issued a media release challenging Republican lawmakers to give up their own taxpayer funded health insurance plans.
“If the GOP wants to get rid of insurance for thousands of Montanans, then they should lead by example and give up their state-paid health insurance,” Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick said in the release. “After all, Montanans shouldn’t have to hold elected office in order to receive health care.”
At their news conference, Republican lawmakers outlined a series of bills regarding the issue, including a bill that would compel the attorney general to join a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the new law, a bill to prohibit enforcement of the requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance, and a bill that would allow residents to buy insurance across state lines.
Republican House Member Cary Smith, of Billings, said the state has been threatened with a reduction in federal Medicaid funding if they don’t comply and that the federal government could enforce the bill if Montana doesn’t.