get it home page promo

AG Fox agrees that Medicaid initiative’s fiscal note is flawed; asks Supco to order it redone

2014-04-15T10:01:00Z 2014-05-22T16:29:16Z AG Fox agrees that Medicaid initiative’s fiscal note is flawed; asks Supco to order it redone Helena Independent Record

Attorney General Tim Fox has told the state Supreme Court that part of a voter-initiative petition to expand Medicaid in Montana is legally flawed, and should be rewritten to conform with the law.

Fox, a Republican, said Monday he agreed with opponents of proposed Initiative 170 who say it has a “fiscal note” that overstates how much federal money Montana gets if the measure is passed, and therefore is misleading to those who would sign a petition to qualify I-170 for the November ballot. The alleged overstatement of federal money is $100 million over the next four years.

In filings with the court, Fox’s deputy attorney general, Jon Bennion, asked the high court to order drafting of a new fiscal note – a move that could further delay efforts by I-170 supporters to get the measure on the ballot.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, whose budget office prepared the fiscal note, is defending it, and asked the Supreme Court to allow him to file a “friend of the court” brief in support of keeping the petition unchanged.

Bullock’s chief legal counsel, Andrew Huff, argued in court papers Monday that the fiscal note is accurate, because it’s supposed to include all impacts of expanding Medicaid and its accompanying federal law, the Affordable Care Act.

I-170 seeks to expand Medicaid, the federal-state program that pays medical bills for the poor, to cover 70,000 low-income Montanans.

Under the ACA, if a state expands Medicaid to cover all citizens earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, the federal government will pay nearly all costs through 2016. The feds’ share of expansion costs declines slightly in the next four years, eventually dropping to 90 percent by 2020.

Opponents of I-170 says Bullock’s fiscal note improperly included an increase of federal money from a separate health-insurance program that covers children in low- and moderate-income families. That increase would occur whether or not I-170 passes, they say, and therefore shouldn’t be advertised as a benefit of I-170.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. enu_22
    Report Abuse
    enu_22 - April 18, 2014 3:57 pm
    Judgement AG! Unfortunately yours is not the best and your priorities are skewed. Misdeeds designed to hurt the average person are not forgotten. Montana voters will give you your day of reckoning.
  2. Twangs
    Report Abuse
    Twangs - April 18, 2014 10:23 am
    We'll that didn't take long. Fox's bowing to the right wing results in a 6-0 decision by the Montana Supreme Court. Very poor choice by Fox, and one that will follow him for a long time.
  3. dietz1963
    Report Abuse
    dietz1963 - April 16, 2014 2:51 pm
    Because its not a no-brainer. The paragraph in the ACA on medicaid expansion is not automatic. It gives direction to the States on what needs to happen in order to be "considered" an medicaid expansion State and considered for federal funding. The same paragraph says if the States expands it to the very people the first part of that paragraph requires, then the State will NOT be considered and expansion State and will not be eligible for funding. Which makes no sense to me, does it to anyone else?

    I'd have to read what all Bullock has written into the initiative for the vote, but continued federal funding is not at the 90% level nor will it be federally funded forever. The States have to provide some sort of yearly "something" to the feds that will be evaluated on some sort of point system where amount of federal funding will be considered payment to the States.

    Many folks that have commented on the ACA here have said they have no problem with increased premiums when it results in others being eligble for lower rate insurance. I wonder how the same people feel about increased federal, state or medicaid/medicare tax for it as well. That is what it boils down to.
  4. dietz1963
    Report Abuse
    dietz1963 - April 16, 2014 2:10 pm
    I don't remember that Limber, but clearly democrats at the US congressional level having an attitude that the GOP "lost" and for the GOP needs to "get over it" when it comes to the democratic agenda. So here at the State level the GOP is the majority i.e. the DEM "lost" and now, at the state level the GOP has their agenda, but what, you staunch DEM supports can dish it out but not take it?
  5. dietz1963
    Report Abuse
    dietz1963 - April 16, 2014 2:06 pm
    Whats the problem skooter? He's asking for a re-write and that is before the Supreme Court for a decision. Doesn't matter what you, me, or God thinks about it right now. Its up to the Court now to make a decision.

    On the one hand, I think its great Bullock is bringing this straight to the voters for a vote vs. in Montana Congress. Too bad its not always that way. On the other hand, Montana Congress DID vote on this already.

    Now, you are famous for telling me that I'm in the minority when it comes to the ACA and that the ACA was passed by the majority (which was democrats you saying that they represent the will of the American people). That was in the US Congress but strange...although I didn't agree with it I don't remember a republican coming out with an initiative straight to the voters and have us vote individually on the ACA.

    Now we have a similiar situation here at the State level where the majority (in this case Republicans) voted not to expand medicaid. Or, as you would put it, the WILL of the Montana voters. Here though, the democrats having a problem with the Montana Congress MAJORITY vote on it, want to bring it straight to the voters. Which, here again, I think is good. But also makes democrats hypocrites.

  6. Limber
    Report Abuse
    Limber - April 16, 2014 12:28 pm
    Anyone remember how badly the Republicans missed the revenue estimates a year ago when cutting the governor's budget proposal? Anyone notice how governor's prediction of $300 million surplus wound up being too conservative? Fox's job is to look at evidence, not listen to cronies.
  7. Glaucon
    Report Abuse
    Glaucon - April 16, 2014 10:42 am
    If Medicaid expansion is popular and a no-brainer, why did the Governor's office create a false fiscal note?

    You should not need to lie to pass something like this, right? Or it could be that the Governor knows full well the real costs of expansion and needs to hide them from voters.
  8. skooter
    Report Abuse
    skooter - April 16, 2014 10:33 am
    Dietz - I'm not feeling "HYPO + CRATIC" at all. Of course I know its logic falling on deaf ears…but remind me how you can complain about the long list of injustices in a absolutely one side and party specific manner and you are right thinking but nobody else can with being HYPOCRITICAL? You're response is as knee-jerk as anybody;s here…and on top of it all you don't add a single bit of real comment on the story - you just want to use your SSDD thing. Let me guess, questioning you is an ADN too, right?

    You here your very self recently were complaining that ACA doesn't cover more of the very poor (as a way to list the failures of the law that you hate because you are told to hate it)…and this is a attempt to help alleviate that…in a process that is cheap and inexpensive and has worked at every level in the states that implemented it. Do you ever see how your blind loyalty to making arguments here and party loyalty blind you to things that actually agree with you?

    Do I believe that Fox is playing politics here…absolutely. It's a delay tactic that he hopes will take long enough to make it impossible to get on the ballot so the people of montana aren't allowed to decide for themselves. Tim Fox (and his backers) will get to decide that something that helps REAL PEOPLE in Montana will have to wait at least two more years. You're party has pledged to try and stop every facet of ACA even if it helps the citizens at the state level that these guys have pledged to help, protect and serve. Now that's republican leadership.

    Remember Mr. Can't Trust Politicians…a politician is attempting to take the vote over whether the Montana people want something out or not of their hands and into his…
  9. dietz1963
    Report Abuse
    dietz1963 - April 16, 2014 9:49 am
    Oh boo hoo, the democrats are being asked to have it written legally and they don't like it. Waaahhhh. So here's a prediction, if the Supreme Court rules in the democrats favor on this, then they'll be upstanding impartial people. If they rule against, well, then they'll be bought and paid for republcian flunkies. Not unlke when the other Supreme Court ruled the ACA was constitutional but rules unlimited campaign funds also constitutional

    SSDD, hypocratic democrats.
  10. enu_22
    Report Abuse
    enu_22 - April 16, 2014 7:54 am
    Get another nail in Fox's political coffin for towing the party line. Are you so callous, have such fear of your party's ideology AG, that you dare slow roll expanding healthcare to thousands of Montanans?
  11. skooter
    Report Abuse
    skooter - April 16, 2014 1:20 am
    Nothing like fighting for your limited agenda and the money backing you in the election over and rather than doing the right thing for the people in montana…hardly surprising, but it surely should be.
  12. Twangs
    Report Abuse
    Twangs - April 15, 2014 5:13 pm
    Agrees? Agrees with who? Typical misleading headline. Fox is a skunk in the woodpile.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick


Follow the Independent Record

Great Helena Businesses

Featured Offers & Deals