Senator Tester Talks Health Care with Rural Montanans

Senator Jon Tester traveled across Montana last week -- from Billings to Plentywood to Great Falls -- to talk about the recently passed health care legislation and what it means for Montanans. Forsyth rancher Marvin Quinlan, Jr. attended the Billings discussion and reported back on the event, which attracted a diverse audience of farmers and ranchers, small and large business owners, tribal members, parents, local government officials, students, and labor union leaders.

Quinlan said Senator Tester set out to dispel several rumors around the new health care law, making clear that the new law:

  • Strengthens Medicare by extending the life of the popular program, closing the "donut hole," and making preventive care even more affordable;
  • Does not raise taxes on 99% of Montanans;
  • Does not add to the federal deficit (and in fact reduces it by $1.2 trillion over two decades); and
  • Provides significant tax credits to small businesses choosing to offer health insurance to employees.

Tester also spoke to the claim that the law creates a "government-run system," explaining, "The health reform bill signed by the president one week ago is a major step forward, but it is not radical change."

Participants in Billings praised Tester for his work to ensure that 20% of public health grants go to programs in rural areas. Such grants will bolster medical efforts to combat chronic disease in rural communities and support educational efforts that seek to improve health care in rural America. (You can view Tester's rural health care amendment and other useful fact sheets about the new law by visiting his website.)

Montanans should applaud Senator Tester for supporting the health care bill that passed last month. It is truly an historic achievement.

Quinlan reminds us, however, that the work has really just begun: "Passing this landmark bill is just the first step," Quinlan said. "We have to stay vigilant and engage in the dialogue now underway regarding how states will implement important health care reform provisions, such as creating and administering the state insurance exchanges. There is a lot of work ahead."

We couldn't agree more. That's why we need you to join our efforts! Contact me at (406) 544-8946 or kristinah@cfra.org to learn how.

By Kristina Hubbard