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Federal Spending Bill a Catastrophe for Rural Priorities

On Dec 10, 2014, appropriators in the House and Senate emerged from weeks of backroom talks and 24 hours of tense, final negotiations among top Congressional leaders. They had penciled out an agreement on a $1.1 trillion year-end spending bill that will fund the federal government through September 2015. The package was then introduced in the House, where the proposal passed on Dec 11. A vote to pass the bill in the Senate is expected on Dec 12.
 

Lost Medicaid Dollars to top $700 Million in Montana Alone

Montana is leaving a lot of money on the table. So are other states that haven’t expanded their Medicaid program for low-income residents as the Affordable Care Act provided.

Since Jan 1, 2014, Montana has been forfeiting about $2 million per day in federal funds that could provide health insurance for around 69,000 low-income families and individuals. By Christmas of 2014, this means over $700 million has been forfeited, money that could have been supporting local hospitals and strengthening both the health and the economies of our communities.

A Tale of Two Rural Americas

An opinion editorial in the Des Moines Register on Sunday, Dec 7, 2014, calls for President Obama to fulfill the pledge he made to Iowan’s when campaigning for their votes in 2007. He promised to reform federal farm programs by closing the loopholes mega-farms use to get around the payment limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations.

Local Solutions Keep Rural America Connected

Laws in Colorado and 19 other states prevent municipalities from providing broadband internet service. In Colorado and a few other states, local citizens must pass a referendum to allow their municipality to offer internet service. On November 4th, voters in seven Colorado counties passed such referenda, providing greater access to what has become an essential service - broadband internet.
 

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