Tester Votes to Save Rural Hospitals, Protect Access to Health Care

Tester Supports Amendment to Prevent Montana Taxpayers from Paying Extra

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today voted to save rural hospitals and protect access to health care for children, seniors, veterans, disabled Montanans, and hardworking families.

Tester was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to support an amendment that would have protected health care for the more than 200,000 Montanans who are enrolled in Medicaid, which serves children and the disabled and helps fund rural hospitals and nursing homes.

“Today we had a chance to improve health care for Montana families and protect taxpayers, but it fell victim to partisan politics,” Tester said. “Rather than protect health care for children, seniors, veterans, disabled Montanans, hardworking families, and rural communities, 52 Senators today turned their backs on Montana and rural America in favor of proposals that will jack up health care costs and take money out of Montanans’ pockets.”

Tester supported the amendment to preserve Montana’s popular and bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan, and prevent Montana taxpayers from being forced to pay more money out of their pockets to cover the state’s most vulnerable patients.

The amendment would have required any health care proposal to receive a Senate committee hearing, and be stripped of provisions that cut Medicaid or shift Medicaid costs to state taxpayers, before returning to the Senate floor for a final vote. The proposal being debated on the Senate floor, or any current health care proposal, has not received a hearing or markup by any Senate committees.

In Montana, more than 200,000 people are enrolled in Medicaid-including 77,000 since the state expanded Medicaid eligibility last year.

Tester has held over a dozen health care town halls and listening sessions with patients, doctors, and rural hospital administrators who all said that cuts to Medicaid will eliminate access to health care for many Montanans and put rural health care facilities at risk of closure.

Tester is proposing multiple bills to improve the current health care system, including the SAME Act to ensure that Montana gets its fair share of Medicaid expansion funding.

Tester introduced his own amendment during the health care debate to prevent any actions that would reduce access to health care in rural communities our force rural hospitals to close.

The amendment failed 48-52.