House Bill 256, sponsored by Representative Matthew Monforton (R-Bozeman), would allow only the Legislature, not state agencies, to expand Medicaid or set up a state exchange; which could then enable Montanans to receive the subsidies.
Montana lawmakers previously barred the state from setting up its own exchange, so Montanans seeking individual or family coverage under the ACA have used the federal exchange.
Monforton said the measure wasn't directing the state to set up an exchange or not to, or to accept or reject Medicaid expansion, but just directed those decisions to lawmakers. “Is that decision going to be made by the Legislature, by the people's representatives, or is it going to be made by an administrative agency?” he asked on the House floor.
Representative Pat Noonan (D-Butte), noted the Legislature's previous rejection of a state exchange.
“And in a weird twist of irony, we're standing here again trying to hand control to the federal government, instead of keep it here in Montana,” he said.
The House passed the measure 58 to 42. It has one more vote in the House before heading to the Senate.