Organizers of the Healthy Montana Initiative - an effort to expand Medicaid to 70-thousand Montanans - conceded defeat today, but vow to continue to support the issue.
Healthy Montana Initiative president, Kim Abbott, says I-170 will not qualify for the November ballot.
The initiative would have required signatures of 5-percent of the total number of qualified voters in the state; including support of 5-percent of voters in each of the 34 legislative house districts, for a total of 24,175 signatures. Abbot says the campaign collected over 25-thousand signatures, but internal quality-assurance analysis showed they would have needed 32-thousand signatures by tomorrow's deadline to qualify for the November ballot.
The campaign started in late March. The measure had to be re-submitted twice for approval and faced a legal challenge as well.
Abbott says I-170 may be dead, but the issue of expanding Medicaid in Montana has tremendous support among voters and the momentum to do just that will continue.
Democratic Governor Steve Bullock supports expanding the state and federal program that helps the poor pay for their medical care, but the 2013 legislature rejected the idea. Opponents essentially said Medicaid expansion would eventually cost the state too much money and represented an unnecessary expansion of the Affordable Care Act.