At a time when our health care system is under unprecedented strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are incredibly concerned by the steady flow of misinformation seeping into opinion pages across the state.
On behalf of the Montana Hospital Association, our members and all of their health care workers, we are stunned by letters to the editor and guest columns filled with falsehoods that suggest Medicaid reform has somehow changed the law as it relates to abortions or gender reassignment surgery in Montana.
These statements are simply not true. This is dog whistle politics at its worst and has the impact of striking at the core of one of the most crucial policies keeping Montana hospitals viable when our neighbors need them most.
During the 2019 legislative session, a Republican-sponsored Medicaid reform bill emerged that was eventually signed into law. It enacted significant reforms to prevent fraud and limit the program to those who need it most. There were legislators who rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to make the law better, more transparent and more fiscally responsible. There were also legislators who refused to engage, knowing that the most extreme dark money groups on the fringe would be waiting to attack come election season. That’s exactly what we’re seeing now.
Websites masquerading as legitimate news sources are publishing misinformation designed to sow mistrust and spin a false narrative about political opponents and policies the site owners don’t like. We have no issue with opposing viewpoints. We do take issue with fake news sites and their followers spreading misinformation about healthcare policy.