In Montana, Brown said the tobacco industry spent $17.5 million—more than $17 per resident—to defeat a $2-per-pack tobacco tax that would help fund the state’s expanded Medicaid program for about 96,000 residents. The tobacco tax, which was proposed as a way to keep Medicaid expansion going, didn’t pass and now the program could expire in 2019.
“Big Tobacco’s endless thirst for profits and its need to addict a new generation of users overwhelmed the efforts of public health advocates to create a healthier, more prosperous future for the people of Montana,” Brown said. “Uninsured and underinsured people with heart disease and stroke experience higher mortality rates, poorer blood pressure control, greater neurological impairments and longer hospital stays after a stroke. In addition, higher numbers of the uninsured raise costs for everyone in the health care system.”
Brown urged states that haven’t yet expanded Medicaid coverage to consider doing so. The election results in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah on Tuesday are expected to extend coverage to a combined 300,000 more low-income residents, including 150,000 in Utah.