MISSOULA – Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) was at Community Medical Center in Missoula Wednesday to continue campaigning for Initiative I-185, a ballot measure that would raise tobacco taxes and make permanent Montana’s Medicaid expansion program.
Backers for I-185 include the American Heart and Lung Association and the Montana Hospital Association, among other medical community groups in the state and the country.
Bullock has previously argued that much of the campaign against the initiative is being bankrolled by national tobacco firms, including Altria Client Services, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, and RIA Services Co., which makes Camel cigarettes.
“The challenge, really, is out of state companies are spending, so far, $12 million. That’s three times more than any opposition ballot committee has ever spent,” Bullock said. “So just encourage people to actually get the facts about what Medicaid expansion has done for 100,000 Montanans, working Montanans that have health care. Or the 5,000 new jobs in our state or the importance to our rural hospitals.”
Medicaid expansion currently costs the state $60 million annually, and the initiative is expected to generate $61.5 million.
Other programs that will benefit from the initiative include veterans services, in-home care for seniors, individuals with disabilities and programs to prevent tobacco use.