Tester warns that new tax bill hurts children’s health program

by Sidney Herald, Nicole Hoffman

U.S. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has expressed his feelings regarding the next tax bill.He says the proposal will add $1.5 trillion to the nation’s debt in order to pay for tax giveaways to wealthy out-of-staters.

During a conference call with Tester on Wednesday afternoon, he addressed the issue of the new tax bill. “Politicians voted for this handout to the wealthy, while health insurance for tens of thousands of Montana kids and funding for Montana’s Community Health Centers dries up,” Tester said.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funds the Healthy Montana Kids Program. Tester mentioned during the call that he voted to create the program when he was in state legislature. “At the time, it was a bipartisan initiative. Now it’s tragically fallen victim to politics,” said Tester. 

The Healthy Montana Kids program offers affordable insurance for kids of families who are struggling financially. Tester said, “Someone in your community likely relies on this program to keep their family healthy without breaking the bank.”

When asked based on what he was hearing from residents, what most Montanans are concerned with regarding the new tax bill, Tester said, “Well the fact that the tax breaks for the middle class are not permanent, the tax breaks for the corporations are and it increases the debt. Look, they all want tax breaks, but not on the backs of our kids and that’s what Montanans are worried about.”

Tester explained that while they’re saying it will add $1.5 trillion to our debt, some are saying that it’s going to be well over $2 trillion. While the fund is set to run out in January, it leaves families going into a new year without coverage for their sick children. “If Congress can jam through a partisan plan to give big corporations permanent tax breaks, they should be able to find the money to make sure Montana families don’t lose their health insurance.”

As far as trying to continue to attain funds for programs like CHIP and for community health centers, Tester explained that he has a bill that would fund CHIP for another five years. “If you’re writing an article, tell Montanans to call us. Everybody, myself included. Say, quit screwing around with community health center funds, quit screwing around with the Healthy Montana Kids Program. This program has worked for nearly 20 years now and it’s a program we depend upon. If Montana speaks up, I’ve seen it make a huge difference back here in D.C.,” stated Tester.

He said Community Health Center funds and Healthy Montana Kids really make a difference in Montana communities statewide. “Across Montana more than 100,000 people rely on Community Health Centers for their medical care. They get annual checkups, immunizations and cancer screenings. These facilities are literally life savers.”

“But I will always defend the things that work for Montana families,” stated Tester.