Across the country, Republicans have begun to realize a long-held goal of requiring able-bodied adults to work, get job training or perform community service in exchange for receiving health coverage through Medicaid.
House District 12 State Representative Greg Hertz from Polson said on Friday that the topic had come up in discussions with fellow legislators meeting in Helena last week.
“I think the majority of Republicans support some type of work requirement, not only for Medicaid, but also for other welfare-type benefits, whether its food stamps or healthcare benefits that people receive,” said Hertz. “A recent survey said that 8o percent of Americans support some type of work requirement for those receiving welfare benefits. However, it requires a waiver from the Governor, who has not followed through with the requirements within the legislation. I spoke with Senator Ed Buttrey who sponsored the Medicaid expansion legislation and he was a little discouraged that the governor hadn’t followed through on everything that was in that legislation.”
Montana Medicaid is set to sunset in 2019 and Hertz said a great deal more money will be required to support the program.
“If we’re going to continue it we’re going to require a significant increase in funding,” he said. “We just saw that 91,000 people have signed up so far and that’s more than double what we thought, so it’s probably going to cost us upwards of $100 million a year, so we’re going to need that money to continue it.”
Hertz said the so-called ‘rainy-day fund’ is completely exhausted after last year’s fire season.
“It’s also getting to be election season, so everyone needs to be informed on the issues and look at the candidates and vote accordingly.”