Montana News

Mar 2, 2011 11:18 AM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Schweitzer speaks out on federal health care reform

President Obama recently told the National Governor's Association that he is granting the states more flexibility in implementing federal healthcare reform, but Gov. Brian Schweitzer isn't buying it.

"They act as though this is going to be a cure-all solution for states who would like more flexibility, but they really haven't changed the rules so that flexibility is more likely to be granted or would be granted sooner than what it has been in the past," Schweitzer said.

The Affordable Care Act currently allows states to come up with their own health care solutions in 2017, but President Obama told the National Governors Association that he supports legislation that bumps that date up to 2014.

But Schweitzer says the date isn't the problem.

"Any system that we are likely to adopt in Montana must also challenge the cost in health care, how much we pay for medicine, how much we pay for medical devices, how many procedures our patients are undergoing," he said.

According to the MT Department of Health & Human Services, the Affordable Care Act will more than double Montana's Medicaid rolls. Schweitzer says the federal government allows states to apply for waivers to help offset costs.

"It's just that it takes a long to time to get that waiver approved and many of those waivers aren't approved," he said.

MT State Senator Jason Priest of Red Lodge has become the voice of the Republican majority regarding federal health reform and says Obama's offer of flexibility doesn't address his underlying concern that the federal government is mandating health insurance coverage.

"We have to start over. All of the bad ideas that have been tried were added to the health care bill on steroids. They were bad ideas when they were in Massachusetts, they were bad ideas in Oregon and applying them to the entire country doesn't make them a good idea," Priest explained.

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