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Bullock Lends Support to Healthy Montana Initiative

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HELENA – Today, Governor Steve Bullock and Lt. Governor Angela McLean joined health care providers and advocates to support I-170, the Healthy Montana Initiative. Governor Bullock has been a vocal proponent for Montana's Medicaid expansion. Bullock and McLean added their names to the list of Montana voters that have already signed the petition to qualify I-170 for the ballot in Nov. 2014.

“In Montana, we take care of our neighbors. When an avalanche strikes in Missoula, we all grab a shovel. When a fire breaks out, we donate clothing and blankets and open churches and schools to house the victims. When 70,000 people are shut out of getting quality and affordable health care, we have to step up and help,” said Governor Bullock. “There are people with cancer who cannot afford the medical attention necessary to save their lives. This is not how we do things in Montana. I am committed to do whatever needs to be done to ensure Montanans get the coverage they deserve.”

If passed, the Healthy Montana Initiative will expand Montana's existing Medicaid program and provide health care to 70,000 low-income Montanans including veterans and their families, home health care workers, working parents, and other uninsured people.

“Expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do. People’s lives are on the line. People without health insurance delay medical treatment which can have grave consequences for their health,” said Dr. Jonathan Griffin, Family Physician in Helena. “Expanding Medicaid also keeps medical costs down for all of us in the long run as more people get preventative care they need to stay out of emergency rooms.”

Advocates say I-170 makes good financial sense. According to the Montana Budget and Policy Center, the Healthy Montana Initiative will create 12,000 new jobs and give the state’s economy a $5.4 billion boost by accepting federal funds.

“We are confident that we can collect the signatures necessary to qualify the Healthy Montana Initiative for the November 2014 ballot, and Montana voters will overwhelmingly pass this important initiative,” said Claudia Clifford, Advocacy Director of AARP Montana. “Lives are on the line, and the stakes are too high for Montana to do nothing.”

To qualify an initiative or referendum for the ballot, signatures of 5 percent of the total number of qualified voters in the state (based on the number of votes cast for the office of governor in the last general election), including 5 percent of the voters in each of 34 legislative house districts must be obtained (a total of 24,175 signatures).

Supporting organizations include: AARP Montana, Blue Mountain Clinic Family Practice, Child Care Resources, MEA-MFT, Montana Budget and Policy Center, Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, MHA – An Association of Montana Health Care Providers, Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Nurses Association, Montana Organizing Project, Montana Primary Care Association, Montana State AFL-CIO, Montana Women Vote, Rural Dynamics, Inc., Planned Parenthood of Montana, SEIU Healthcare 775NW, and Western Native Voice.

For more information on the Healthy Montana Initiative, go to www.healthymontanainitiative.org or email healthmtinitiative@gmail.com.

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Steve Bullock, Medicaid expansion, Healthy Montana Initiative, I-170

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