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Healthcare Professionals Join Gov. Bullock in Support of I-185

Hospital news | Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Contact: Lauren Brendel, M.S.

Vote Yes for I-185 Bozeman Rally supports health coverage for 100,000 Montanans.

Gov. Steve Bullock joined Bozeman healthcare professionals on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital to show united support for ballot initiative 185, the Healthy Montana Initiative.

"Out-of-state tobacco companies are dumping millions of dollars into Montana to deceive voters. They're flooding our airwaves and mailboxes with misinformation - all to protect their profits," said Gov. Steve Bullock. "We can't let Big Tobacco win. There is truly too much at stake. I-185 fully funds the state's share of Medicaid Expansion to protect healthcare coverage for 100,000 Montanans. It will also help to reduce smoking and fund other essential services that our veterans and seniors have earned and deserve."

I-185 aims to reduce tobacco use and the impact of tobacco-related diseases on health, healthcare costs, and the economy. It will extend and fund Medicaid expansion (which is set by the Montana Legislature to expire on June 30, 2019) through an increase in the state tax on tobacco products – including currently untaxed electronic cigarettes and vaping products.

Preventing the loss of Medicaid expansion will keep health coverage for nearly 100,000 Montanans – including veterans and seniors who are not yet eligible for Medicare.

The Governor's Office of Budget and Program Planning concluded that when factoring in state savings as a result of Medicaid expansion, along with the new revenue from I-185, Medicaid expansion will be fully paid for. The initiative also raises funding for veterans' health services, veterans' nursing homes, tobacco prevention and cessation, home- and community-based services that benefit seniors, individuals with disabilities and caregivers across Montana.

"Bozeman Health is supporting I-185 because it is about keeping hardworking families and kids healthy," said Bozeman Health president and CEO John Hill. "The healthcare community in Bozeman and around the state is passionately focused on the health of kids and adolescents, we have a responsibility to protect Montana kids from these addictive products. Increasing the fees on cigarettes and tobacco-related products is a proven way to keep kids from smoking and help adults to quit. Bottom line, tobacco is making people sick and Medicaid is saving lives."

"As providers, community members, and parents, we're here to do the right thing for Montana's kids; we are their voice, because they don't get a vote," said pediatrician Dr. Angie Ostrowski. "Use of ecigarette products is an epidemic among our children. Our existing tax on tobacco in Montana doesn't include e-cigarettes and I-185 changes that. Taxation is the most effective way to reduce the likelihood kids will start using nicotine, or continue to use nicotine products."

"I support I-185 because I'm a pediatric provider and a veteran," said Lynne Foss, CPNP-PC. "A person never knows when PTSD will strike. Suicide prevention saves our brothers and our sisters, our sons and our daughters, and our mothers and our fathers. The revenue raised by I-185 will not only ensure nearly 100,000 Montanans, including 9,500 veterans and their families, have access to care and will fund expanded suicide prevention programs."