Legislators: Do Unto Others

To the Editor,
Let us ask our local legislators to do unto others as they do unto themselves.
Both our Rep. Joanne Blyton and Sen. Jason Priest have taken advantage of the $733 per month that they as legislators have provided for themselves and that the state (namely, us taxpayers) pays for their health insurance coverage.
According to a state release of information, Rep. Blyton has chosen to accept $733 per month payment towards her own private health care coverage, and Sen. Priest has enrolled in a state health plan, with the state paying $733 towards that plan.  Both, however, currently indicate that they are against any government health care program for any other Montana residents, particularly those within our county who would be among the 70,000 Montanans who would be covered under an expansion of the federal Medicaid program.

Ask them then to consider their many constituents in our area who are not able to access such coverage.  How many will lose their home, or their farm, due to medical bills?  
Lack of health care coverage for these fellow residents also costs all of us more in increased insurance premiums to meet the cost of serving them in emergency rooms or in late-stage diseases.  
Despite continued opposition to “government” coverage, neither the opponents, Sen. Priest being among the most ardent, nor private insurers have come up with a plan to assure the access of all people, not just legislators, to health care.  
Let us hope that the real motive of opponents is not just to save taxpayers money, which the fiscal analysis doesn’t support, but to deny health care access to those who don’t “deserve” it because of those legislators’ hatred of “government” (which, ironically, is paying for their own health care).
Urge your legislator to approve the available expansion of Medicaid.  If the state paid each resident who would be eligible for Medicaid $733 per month to purchase their own insurance, as the legislators do to themselves, it would cost the state $51,310,000 a month, hardly a viable option.

Betsy Scanlin
Red Lodge