Fred Thomas

Taylor Brown
5:48 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Taylor Brown: How The Voice Of Agriculture Found His Senatorial Voice

Sen. Taylor Brown, R-Huntley, speaks on a bill during the Jan. 21 floor session.
Credit Michael Wright

Of all the people on the Montana Senate Agriculture committee, there’s one who always seems to be having more fun.

“To me,” said Sen. Taylor Brown, R-Huntley, “that’s like recess.”

Brown, in his second Senate term, serves as the committee’s chair. He knows the issues and the people, and the people know him. For many years his voice reported farm news to every corner of the state for Northern Broadcasting System, which he now owns.

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Medicaid Expansion
11:09 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Dueling Medicaid Expansion Proposals Now Before Legislature

Governor Steve Bullock unveiling his Medicaid expansion proposal
Credit Eric Whitney

Governor Steve Bullock introduced his Medicaid expansion plan this week; one of the most anticipated and potentially controversial bills of the 2015 legislative session.

It would accept federal funding to pay most of the estimated $870 million a year cost of extending Medicaid to about 70,000 more Montanans. Bullock said it was appropriate to introduce the bill on Martin Luther King day.

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Medicaid Expansion
10:52 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Medicaid's Western Push Hits Montana

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is giving Medicaid expansion another try.
Matt Volz AP

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 10:54 am

The Affordable Care Act is on the move in Western states, with the governors of Utah, Wyoming and Montana all working on deals with the Obama administration to expand Medicaid in ways tailored to each state.

But getting the federal stamp of approval is just the first hurdle. The governors also have to sell the change to their state legislators, who have their own ideas of how expansion should go.

The latest example is Montana, where the governor and the legislature have competing proposals about how much federal Medicaid expansion cash the state should try to bring in.

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Alternative To Governor's Ideas
6:33 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Montana Republicans' Health Plan Explained, Criticized

The 2015 Montana Legislature Convenes January 5.
Credit Eric Whitney

A group of nine Montana state lawmakers has put out an alternative to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s plan to expand Medicaid. They call it the Healthy Montana Family Plan, and it aims to cover more people, without the long term expense of Medicaid expansion.

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Obamacare Alternative
11:15 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Montana Senate Republicans Release Health Plan

Stevensville Senator Fred Thomas chairs the Montana Senate's Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee
Credit Montana Legislature

A group of Montana Republicans have released their plan to improve health care and insurance coverage in Montana.

Stevensville Senator Fred Thomas says: “Improving our healthcare system is a far more complicated equation than simply expanding government insurance coverage. Any solution must be a comprehensive plan that does more than just provide health insurance through the Obamacare framework.”

You can see the proposal below.

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Medicaid Expansion
6:47 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Legislative Fiscal Division refutes Gov.’s cost estimate for Medicaid Expansion

The summary included with the fiscal note on Medicaid expansion submitted by the Governor's Office of Budget and Program Planning.
Credit OBPP

Governor Steve Bullock announced his support Wednesday for a voter initiative to expand Medicaid, called the Healthy Montana Initiative.

Medicaid expansion is an optional piece of the Federal Affordable Care Act, and Republican majorities in the Montana Legislature decided not to approve it in 2013.

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Republican Rift
5:43 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Republican divide widening ahead of MT primary election

Credit Jacob Baynham, Community News Service, UM School of Journalism

 As Montana moves toward the June primary elections, a deep divide still exists between elements of the state legislature’s Republican caucus.

This split between moderate and conservative Republicans was most dramatically seen in the 2013 Montana Senate, where the GOP held a 29-21 majority over Democrats. The body almost seemed to have three caucuses, though, as a small group of Republicans regularly defied party leadership to side with Democrats on a number of key issues such as campaign spending law changes, school funding legislation, and state employee pension reform.

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Megaloads
5:44 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Lawmakers ask if Missoula can charge fees to megaload shipments

State lawmakers are asking what rights local governments have to charge fees to megaload shipments moving through Montana cities and towns.

These vehicles carry enormous pieces of equipment, blocking traffic as they haul their freight often to the tar sands of Canada or the Bakken oil patch.

The legislature’s Revenue and Transportation Interim committee inquired into the fees Tuesday.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce says the city of Missoula began charging them a few years ago. 

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Medicaid Expansion
1:53 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Just how much would Medicaid expansion cost the state anyway?

Items in parenthesis indicate a negative fiscal impact.
Credit Governor's Office of Budget and Program Planning

Analysis of a new ballot measure seeking to expand Medicaid shows expansion would not cost Montana as much as previously forecast, but the state budget would still take a long-term hit from the so-called “Healthy Montana Initiative.”

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Affordable Care Act
11:31 am
Fri January 24, 2014

40-thousand Montanans fall into Obamacare 'coverage gap'

Arlee resident Donna Mollica earns too much to qualify for Medicaid as it stands, but not enough to meet the criteria for Affordable Care Act health insurance subsidies

A ballot initiative which would expand Medicaid in Montana has run into a hang-up after the Attorney General’s office noted a legal issue with the proposal.

Supporters of the so-called “Healthy Montana Initiative” have filed a corrected version to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office.

This will shorten the amount of time the initiative has to gather signatures to be placed on the 2014 ballot.

Republican lawmakers during the 2013 legislature blocked passage of Medicaid Expansion, an optional piece of the federal Affordable Care Act.

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