Letter To The Editor

In 2018, Medicaid Expansion was on the ballot and Richland County voters against funding the welfare program by 67%, an overwhelming majority. In 2019, former Rep. Joel Krautter crossed party lines to vote with his Democrat colleagues and fellow “Solutions Caucus” Republicans to narrowly pass Medicaid Expansion. In other words, Rep. Krautter voted against the will of his constituents.

However, in an op-ed published April 14, 2019 in another publication, Krautter explained his reasoning for voting with Democrats on the issue. Ed Buttrey, Llew Jones, and other members of the Solutions Caucus slipped in a work requirement for Medicaid recipients.

Krautter wrote, “I supported Representative Buttrey’s bill because I believe in the reforms it makes to the Medicaid law set to expire in June without reauthorization.” He went on, “I also heard from constituents that they supported new work-requirements for able-bodied adults, whom the reformed law includes...”

As expected – and as many of us warned at the time – either the courts or a Democratic administration would be likely to overturn those work requirements. Today, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services notified Montana DPHHS that, “a five-year extension of the Medicaid expansion waiver will not include work/community engagement requirements.”

In other words, the primary reason some left-leaning Republicans used to explain to Montanans why they voted for what we voted against has now been overturned. Now, we are left with a Democrat welfare bill – passed by a Republican-Democrat caucus – without the work requirement until at least 2025 (when another sunset clause takes place).

Let this be a lesson; don’t vote for bad bills because you can make them slightly better. And there’s another lesson; primaries matter. And another; party loyalty matters. And finally, we should all expect our representatives to represent us and our will moving forward, and be beholden to left-leaning Republican legislators like Llew Jones or Ed Buttrey from the other side of the state.

Jordan Hall, Sidney


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