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Medicaid expensive, least effective, but better than socialized systems

This week HB 2, the budget bill, comes over from the House to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. We get Friday through Monday off for an Easter break, then starting on Tuesday, April 7, HB 2 is on the Senate floor. Back door deals have been made and it will be interesting to see what happens.

This session has not been easy for those of us that are fiscal conservatives. The spending will continue to increase. Former Governor Schweitzer told us that Medicaid expansion “would run the risk of bankrupting Montana." He went on to say that Medicaid was “one of the least effective programs in terms of health care in the history of this country.”

Our medical system is too expensive, but it is still so much better than socialized systems. Survival five years after cancer treatment in the US is 65 percent; Canada 42 percent; England 46 percent. Number of MRI scanners per million people? Here 71; in Canada 18; in England 14. Percent of seniors that receive needed hip replacement within six months? US 71 percent; England 14 percent;

Canada 18 percent.

Montana median household income is one of the lowest in the nation, and our per Medicaid enrollee costs are 10th highest at $7,140 per person (currently covering 128,000 people) according to a 2011 study by the Kaiser Foundation. Costs in our neighboring states for that same year: Idaho $5,700; Utah $4,890; North Dakota $8,338; South Dakota $5,908; Wyoming $6,110; Washington $4,993.

Medicaid already funds 43 percent of all births in Montana. Current enrollees are children, disabled, parents, low income elderly and pregnant women.

Do we really want to add 70,000 able-bodied people? Borrowing money from our children and grandchildren to pay for more welfare is irresponsible and wrong. Next week I'll explain about what I consider a bad medical expansion that bill we passed.

I attended an interesting meeting on our retirement funds. The funds go up and down on the graph and the experts draw a straight line they call "smoothing." By using their accounting, funds look OK, but I still have questions. There is a court case about the Guaranteed Annual Benefit Adjustment (GABA) currently underway.

The property tax re-appraisal bill passed the Senate and is on its way to the House. There are things I like, like changing the multiplier to remove the necessity for the homestead deduction, and things I do not like: the two-year cycle. Last time the six-year cycle was bad for our area. This time, it would help. So, why remove it now?

Thanks for all the comments. Leave me a message at (406) 444-4800 because my cell, (406) 253-8766, is usually off. Email sen.janna.taylor@mt.gov.

I work for you.

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