My thoughts will always be with you


To the editor,


In her letter two weeks ago in the Tribune, Senator Barrett cloaked her opposition to expanding Medicaid in our state behind a rather odd attack against Governor Bullock and others for acting “behind closed doors.” A group of Democrats, according to Barrett, have secretly plotted to improve access to health care coverage for nearly 70,000 uninsured Montanans.

Bullock et al apparently chose not to include in their deliberations those actively working to prevent uninsured people from getting access to diagnostic procedures such as mammograms, pap tests, and colonoscopies. They left out people opposed to widening access to prescription drugs and doctor visits. They didn’t consult with people opposed to cutting the costs to hospitals of uncompensated care and unnecessary emergency room usage.

Barrett, unsurprisingly, failed in her letter to mention the benefits of expanding Medicaid. Not only would it make Montanans healthier and lessen some of the financial pressure on hospitals, but it’s a terrific bargain. The federal government would pay 100% of the costs during the first three years and no less than 90% in subsequent years. It would inject an estimated $4 billion into our state’s economy.

The biggest and maybe the only problem with expanding Medicaid, for Tea Party Republicans like Barrett, is that it is a feature of Obamacare. This renders any of its benefits irrelevant. To far-right Republicans, any program connected with President Obama, even if it helps our country or was once supported by their party, must be fought against tooth and claw.

Petitions are currently being circulated to put I-170, the Healthy Montana Initiative, on the ballot in November. The initiative would expand Medicaid in Montana. To locate a petition, go to


Richard Turner