Missoula doc, critic of federal health reform, favors Medicaid expansion

2013-02-24T06:00:00Z 2013-05-28T21:42:41Z Missoula doc, critic of federal health reform, favors Medicaid expansion missoulian.com

A Missoula surgeon and outspoken critic of the federal health care law says Montana should embrace the law’s Medicaid expansion, because it’s probably the only way thousands of low-income Montanans can get health coverage in the current marketplace.

Carter Beck, a neurosurgeon in private practice, said he remains opposed to the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 health reform law supported by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

But in an interview Friday, he said the ACA is “the law of the land for the foreseeable future,” and alternatives that he believes could have made health insurance more affordable for individuals aren’t going to happen.

“The possibility for a low-income Montanan to afford health insurance on a self-funded basis is lost,” he said. “For that reason, I think it’s imperative that we expand Medicaid.”

Medicaid is the state-federal program that provides medical coverage for the poor. It currently covers about 100,000 Montanans.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states have the option to expand Medicaid in 2014 to cover all people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,400 a year for a single person. In Montana, it’s estimated the expansion would cover an additional 70,000 people.

The federal government has promised to cover nearly all costs of the expansion through 2016, and then gradually reduce its share to 90 percent of the costs by 2020.

Medicaid expansion can’t occur without approval of the Montana Legislature. Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is asking the current Legislature to approve the expansion, but has yet to present an expansion bill to lawmakers.

Republicans control majorities at the Montana Legislature. So far, not a single Republican lawmaker has come out publicly in support of Medicaid expansion.

***

Beck said he’s been trying to persuade Republicans in the Legislature to consider expanding Medicaid, and that it’s the right thing to do, to provide coverage for low-income Montanans.

“I agree with (Republicans) that the federal government doesn’t have the money,” he said. “But in the near term, with Montana being 49th in per-capita income, we can’t afford to stand on principle. We can’t afford to be a martyr for the cause.”

Those who would be covered by the Medicaid expansion are low wage-earners, some of whom work two jobs to make ends meet, Beck said: “For them to buy a (health insurance) policy in Montana would exhaust their disposable income.”

In the past two-and-a-half years, Beck has often spoken out against the Affordable Care Act. He was a Montana spokesman for the Coalition to Protect Patient Rights, a conservative group that opposed the ACA, has lectured at various groups around the state, and appeared on numerous media outlets.

Beck said he would have preferred to reform the medical liability system, lessen government involvement in health care, and enable consumers to be more involved in paying for their care, to exert market pressure on health care costs.

That approach lost out, however, and the direction taken by Obama and Congress was confirmed in the last election, he said.

“The dye has been cast and the success or failure of the ACA should be judged in its entirety, rather than judged by how it’s opposed by conservatives,” he said.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at mike.dennison@lee.net.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(33) Comments

  1. startingover
    Report Abuse
    startingover - March 03, 2013 9:16 am
    EXACTLY! You should read this,
    http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/20/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/

  2. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 26, 2013 5:59 pm
    @sofaking, we have the ability to slow lumber crossing the border and/or charge tariffs to even the playing field.
  3. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - February 26, 2013 3:10 pm
    We're all very proud of you madtaxpayer. Again our system only works if we have people stuck at the bottom.
  4. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - February 26, 2013 8:12 am
    Let me explain how life works. We are born, our parents (if they're not drugged out losers) teach us how to be good, hard working adults, we graduate HS, either start working immediately or go to college (and pick something other than basketweaving or liberal arts for a major), we find a career we are interested in, we start out at the bottom, we then work our way step by step, making more and more money, we enroll in a 401K (hopefully at a young age, as I did at 19 years old), we SAVE our money (we don't have babies we can't afford at 22 years old, we don't blow our money on iPhones, flat screen TV's and new cars), by now we're in our late 20's early 30's, we've saved to buy a house (a $200,000 house not a $450,000 house), settle down and we have work experience under our belt so if layoffs happen, we can find another job in another field of work PLUS we have saved for 10-15 years!

    see, it's not that hard, I did it, I've been laid off 5 times in my life and always had money to support myself, and I always had experience to find work,whether it's day to day work, weekly, monthly, part time or permanent.

    It just takes effort. I don't see effort by people in this country anymore, as I said, they all act like they are "entitled" to everyone else's money because they were too stupid to save.
  5. tinlizzie
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    tinlizzie - February 25, 2013 5:15 pm
    Madtaxpayer - such anger, hatred and animosity toward your fellow human beings. Check out the Seattle newspaper and see how many high-paying jobs (or even minimum wage jobs are offered). I feel sorry for you - it must be hard to walk around feeling superior to those around you, when you were making $4.00/hour what year was that? It was probably a decent wage at that time - sure some people take advantage of the situation and we will always have that however, many more who have to go to a food bank or get on snap and welfare would jump at the chance to get off.
  6. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 25, 2013 4:40 pm
    @mad, I know that you have those that abuse the system, I don't like it either but I am not in a position to do anything about it, Congress isn't gonna do anything about it either. I have earned every penny that have made it's way through my filthy, We all have seen the death of industry around here that died with many good jobs. Let's work to improve our economy and give people a chance to climb up the ladder of success, it's pretty hard to get a good job when you have 200+ people trying to get the same job, but I understand where you are coming from and people need to be held accountable for their actions not depend on everybody else for a living.
  7. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - February 25, 2013 3:56 pm
    The timber industry died because Canada subsidizes their lumber so we cannot compete with imported lumber.
  8. sofaking tired of the GOP
    Report Abuse
    sofaking tired of the GOP - February 25, 2013 3:53 pm
    If thousands of people drive to Seattle don't you think they'll run out of jobs? And our economic system only works if we have people that work for minimum wage or slightly higher. If all those people "move to Seattle" we'll have no daycare workers, no cashiers of any kind, no one working at our ski hills, no one working at grocery stores or Walmart, etc. We basically could buy nothing. Not a very bright plan.
  9. goodneighbor
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    goodneighbor - February 25, 2013 2:04 pm
    sure thing madtaxpayer, they can all get a job in the Bakken where I saw a bumper sticker that said "Williston, ND, the only place where you can earn $100,000/year and still be homeless" That supply and demand thing is sure working over there...$1500/month for a bed---not an apartment, a bed.
  10. goodneighbor
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    goodneighbor - February 25, 2013 2:01 pm
    :) I like it!
  11. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - February 25, 2013 9:13 am
    oh, and no, I am not a christian. I only believe in myself, no invisible thing in the sky has helped me achieve my goals in life, I did it all by myself. jesus who?
  12. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - February 25, 2013 9:11 am
    I NEVER had to move back to mommy's. And I started out making $4.00/hr paying $410/mo in rent! But guess what? I didn't drive a $20,000 car, have a 50" TV, or an iphone! If kids today would get rid of half the electronics they "think" they need, they might actually be able to make it in the real world! And for god's sake, move to another state, a state that actuallly HAS jobs! If people can't make it here, they can leave! My great great grandfather came west in a covered wagon so he could get a better job in WA. Now tell me why some college grad can't get in the CAR their parents bought for them and drive to Seattle for a better job???? sorry, no excuses, tired of them.
  13. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - February 25, 2013 9:05 am
    Listen, we all start out or even may end up having low paying jobs in our lives, but we don't stay there! And while we're there, we don't expect others or the government to as you said "foot the bill". Minimum wage is not meant for families to live on. If people do not make enough money to support their families, maybe they should keep their pants zipped up!!! Because I for one am sick of seeing where my taxes go. All you have to do is visit the local walmart on the first day of the month, after you see the lazy filth in that store on welfare day, you may change your mind about how rotten and lazy people have become today.
  14. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - February 25, 2013 8:59 am
    THEY CAN MOVE! My sister in law lost her home, but moved across country to find a better job! I am so sick of the excuses! there are jobs, people can go get them, but they CHOOSE to sit and cry and wait for the government to give them more money so they can keep sitting and waiting for someone to hand them a job. LAZINESS! If we keep giving people money for doing nothing, they will continue to do nothing. common sense.
  15. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 25, 2013 6:57 am
    It was my wife on her way to WORK smarty pants and no she wasn't drinking either! And you might be glad to hear that Mr. Beck didn't ask her if she was a democrat or republican before he operated on her.
  16. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 24, 2013 9:29 pm
    @chezi I am going to start by saying the logging industry didn't die, it was killed by dogooders and environmental extremists, the reason our local economy is in such shambles is because the people governing our city and county, you have to let opportunity in for the people to prosper and opportunity comes in more forms than just green jobs. I don't have insurance and can't afford it either, i don't expect any body to foot the bill for me either. I will go to the Dr. as I can afford too. @Madtaxpayer you made some foolhardy statements, how can any person get a better job if there is none available, you have hundreds of people applying for any good paying job out there. Our economy is service related now through the efforts of our County Commissioners and City Council and you know as well as I do that service related jobs are low wage paying jobs not to mention seasonal. Michelle Landquist is quoted as saying “You don’t work for years and years to achieve what we’ve all achieved in the tourism and recreation dollars, the industry it’s become, just to sell it to any company that wants to destroy that travel corridor. People will not come.” http://missoularedtape.com/2011/03/30/missoula-commissioners-join-bigrigs-lawsuit/ You are right about some of your comments but not all people are lazy just because they have low wage jobs, I am sure they would all like higher wages for their efforts.
  17. dsrobins
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    dsrobins - February 24, 2013 9:05 pm
    I gather you have been there and done that. Were you drunk at the time?
  18. tinlizzie
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    tinlizzie - February 24, 2013 7:30 pm
    Madtaxpayer exactly what planet do you live on? Most people that are working in the service industry (because those are the only jobs they can get - all the mills are pretty much shut down, and manufacturing has been shipped overseas by the "job creators") are not offered insurance coverage with their minimum wage jobs(s) that they work. And if they are offered coverage, they probably pay $525.00 month with a $3,000.00 per member deductible. How can anyone live on that? I wonder if Dr. Beck offers insurance staff? How can you be so blind as not to see how hard your neighbors are working? My daughter has 2 college degrees and had to move back home because she cannot get a job? And the ones she has been applying for start out at $8.00/hour - not even a living wage. I suppose you are fine upstanding "Christain woman"? Why don't you ask yourself WWJD????
  19. GaryTinkSanders
    Report Abuse
    GaryTinkSanders - February 24, 2013 7:29 pm
    @dsrobins, you are talking out your backside right now, if you were just in a wreck and had a broken neck you would be lucky to have Mr. Beck nearby and I guarantee you would eat your words.
  20. David1
    Report Abuse
    David1 - February 24, 2013 3:40 pm
    The solution to our health care financial problems is simple: go to universal health care. Get the private sector out of health care. It's because of the private sector that the ACA is faulty, trying to accommodate both the profit desires of doctors, clinics, hospitals, and most of all, the pharmaceutical companies. Not only universal health care, but put all doctors, hospitals, etc., under ownership by the Feds. Put doctors, etc., on salaries so that they can focus on what they're supposed to do: care for the sick & injured, instead of trying to make a killing (sorry) on the misfortunes of others.
  21. dsrobins
    Report Abuse
    dsrobins - February 24, 2013 2:36 pm
    A single dice is also called a die. Since the game is normally played with two or more, the plural form is dice.
  22. dsrobins
    Report Abuse
    dsrobins - February 24, 2013 2:33 pm
    Any doctor who opposes Obama's health care reforms is clearly a fool and a quack. Is this guy a right wing, born again "christian" too? I would certainly never patronize him nor anyone who thinks like him.
  23. chezi
    Report Abuse
    chezi - February 24, 2013 1:03 pm
    There are plenty of college grads now who are working minimum wage jobs just to have one, if they can find one of those...There are plenty who had wonderful careers and homes who are now without...There are plenty who were sent overseas and have returned to a smaller workforce than when they left....There are plenty who are unable to work because they are very ill due to not being able to have insurance for well care in the past...Low income is not lazy people...often times it is dictated by a variety of reasons..How about here..the logging industry has died, the mills have closed, etc..many jobs were created because of them..now all are without..Just saying...
  24. chezi
    Report Abuse
    chezi - February 24, 2013 12:57 pm
    Not to sound too political but last I heard it was during the Bush reign that we dove into the bleak outcomes we now have and are desparately trying to come out of...all the while facing of the continual expansions of job outsourcing and new technologies which further limits the need for additional workers.......we need the good paying jobs with security which can bring the economy back...
  25. zootown
    Report Abuse
    zootown - February 24, 2013 12:03 pm
    I often wonder why so many people run their mouths before thinking: So who are the low income:

    Women who work two jobs to support the children that men refuse to pay child support to because they are so afraid the woman will spend it on herself instead of providing food and shelter for his children.

    People who work two or three jobs trying to make ends meet because wages are so low.

    Veterans who have returned from the stupid wars we have no business putting our noses in.

    Disabled people who wish they were able to work but are either not wanted on the job or are incapable of working.

    Foster parents who need help supporting abandoned children...

    Instead of claiming to be good Christians who support the churches to build gold trimmed churches, alters and clothing.............act like one and stop whining.
  26. doohan
    Report Abuse
    doohan - February 24, 2013 11:55 am
    I would encourage people to read the latest edition of Time magazine. The free market is a total failure in the field of medical care. We pay much more than any other civilized country on Earth for marginal healthcare. The average neurosurgeon in the US earns $750,000, but the real money is in drugs, equipment, and hospital charges. Providing universal healthcare has been accomplished in most first world countries with lower costs and better quality. The forces opposing this are making trillions at the expense of the rest of us.
  27. startingover
    Report Abuse
    startingover - February 24, 2013 8:58 am
    Hey Missoulian editors. You cast a DIE not a DYE. It is an ancient phrase attributed to Julius Caesar.
  28. Hypatia
    Report Abuse
    Hypatia - February 24, 2013 8:26 am
    This just goes to show that maybe we've been overestimating the intelligence of brain surgeons. I hope a rocket scientist doesn't publicly reveal how stupid he or she is, thereby totally ruining my backup phrase, "it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know...."
  29. idiot state
    Report Abuse
    idiot state - February 24, 2013 8:20 am
    Obama's administration has done more damage to America's econony than could've been expected from a liberal. Liberals are great at grandiose schemes for social justice but not much good at practical implications of their rules and laws. Now if Montana's governor is for Medicaid expansion, why hasn't he presented a bill? Is he over his head this early in his administration?
  30. madtaxpayer
    Report Abuse
    madtaxpayer - February 24, 2013 7:47 am
    I have an idea, make the low income GET A JOB or how about teaching them to be responsible, not have children until they can afford it, strive to move up in the workforce, etc.. but if we continue to give them free EVERYTHING, they will continue to be underachievers, continue to be lazy, continue to be irresponsible.

    I would like my taxes to support my family not a welfare family, but if this country keeps taking taxes from the responsible and giving to the irresponsible, pretty soon there will be no money left because the lazy will outweigh the working.
  31. DJinHelena
    Report Abuse
    DJinHelena - February 24, 2013 7:29 am
    Last sentence: You mean "the die has been cast." Die = a mold for tool for forming or making an impression on an object. Dye = colorant.
  32. montanamuralist
    Report Abuse
    montanamuralist - February 24, 2013 7:05 am
    The problem with allowing the private sector to control costs is obvious. They all raise prices together and the lower income classes are left with little or no care. I wonder if this guy has a policy at his office that allows you to make payments over time for his services if your low income???? Hmmmmm? No??? Must be why he is opting for supporting Medicaid expansion so he does not violate his hypocrite oath. Mr. Potter GOP does not want to expand Medicaid for the poor??? What a huge surprise. They, like their supporters and apparently some doctors, believe in financial natural selection. What is disgusting is our health care system is NOT the best in the world as it is and not the most cost effective and has a much higher mortality rate than other socialized programas in other countries. Oh sorry I forgot Mr. Potter, this is not about getting reasonable health care to people that they can afford, this is about maintaining the status quo. The idea the medical profession is going to regulate itself in the free market is the best one I have heard this year...so far.
  33. walter12
    Report Abuse
    walter12 - February 24, 2013 6:51 am
    People in the US are stupid nowadays and they will find out soon that this nightmare ObamaCare is going to be just that, a national nightmare and a leader to bankrupcy. It has already started with the 49 and 29 rule in the business world. Open your eyes people.
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