Skip to main content

Steve Daines: Not the Senator Montanans Need on Health Care

By March 9, 2020No Comments

Daines Supports Repealing The Health Care Law Which Would Strip Coverage From More Than 112,000 Montanans And Protections For 425,900 Montanans with Pre-Existing Conditions

As Governor Steve Bullock (D), a supporter of the health care law who pushed through Medicaid expansion in Montana, announces his run for the U.S. Senate today, his opponent, Republican incumbent Steve Daines, is actively trying to rip the law apart and deny protections for over 400,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions. When it comes to health care, Steve Daines is not on Montanans side and not the Senator they need. 

Senator Daines Voted Five Times To Repeal The Health Care Law: 

2013: Daines Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA. Daines voted for HR 45, an act “to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.” [HR 45, Roll Call Vote #154, 5/16/13

2014: Daines Campaigned On Repealing The ACA. “The Affordable Care Act (also known as ‘Obamacare’): Opposes it and wants to repeal it. Says he supports some elements, such as prohibiting insurers from considering pre-existing health conditions when setting prices, but that it’s a “series of broken promises” imposing unnecessary costs and bureaucracy on the health-care system. Says more competition should be injected into health-care and insurance markets and that individuals should get tax breaks for buying health insurance.” [Billings Gazette, 10/12/14

2015: Daines Voted To Repeal Most Of The ACA. Daines voted for legislation that gutted the Affordable Care Act by eliminating the insurance exchanges and subsidies, and repealing the Medicaid expansion accepted by 30 states, including Nevada. [HR 3762, Roll Call Vote #114, 12/3/15

  • Daines Promised To “Work Tirelessly To Repeal Obamacare.” “Senator Steve Daines today hailed the passage of legislation that repeals the President’s failed health care law and puts states on a glide path toward creating locally driven health care solutions, upholding the promise Daines made to Montanans to continue fighting to repeal Obamacare. ‘Last year, when I decided to run for Montana’s open Senate seat, I promised the people of Montana that I would work tirelessly to repeal Obamacare. Today, I upheld that promise and voted to repeal President Obama’s broken health care law,’ Daines stated. ‘President Obama will now have to decide whether to put the American people first, or if he’ll continue imposing fines and substandard care on the hardworking people of this country. If the President rejects the will of the American people and vetoes this bill, I will continue working to protect Montanans from rising health care costs.’” [Sen. Steve Daines Press Release, 12/3/15

What would full repeal of the Affordable Care Act eliminate?

  • Protections for 425,900 Montanans with pre-existing conditions, if they buy coverage on their own
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs
  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering roughly 85,000 Montanans
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable
  • Small business tax credits
  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for up to 37,193 Montanans

2017: Daines Voted For The Senate “Repeal And Delay” Plan. Daines voted for Obamacare Repeal and Replacement Act was a Republican effort to repeal the ACA without a replacement. Known as “repeal and delay,” the bill repealed major sections of the ACA, including the Medicaid expansion and premium tax credits, in 2020. [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #169, 7/26/17

  • If Repeal and Delay became law, 32 million fewer people would have health insurance by 2026. 18 million Americans would lose health coverage just in the first year after repeal. 
  • Health insurance premiums would double for those in the individual market.

2017: Daines Voted For The Better Care Reconciliation Act. Daines voted for the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which repealed and replaced the ACA. [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #168, 7/25/17

2017: Daines Voted For “Skinny Repeal” Of The ACA. Daines voted for “Skinny Repeal” of the ACA, which repealed the individual mandate and delayed the employer mandate while leaving most of the rest of the law in place. [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #179, 7/28/17

According To CBO, Skinny Repeal Would Have Resulted In The Largest Coverage Loss in American History: 

    • At minimum, 15 million Americans would lose coverage in 2018. This would have been the biggest one-year increase in our nation’s history. 
    • Premiums would go up by roughly 20 percent 

2017: Daines Was Furious After The Senate Failed To Repeal The ACA. In a press release titled “Daines Blasts Failure to Repeal Obamacare,” Daines said, ‘Montanans have made it clear in election after election, they want Obamacare to be repealed and replaced. These families have paid far too much and have faced an increase of 133 percent in their premiums over the past five years. We must help these families and not let them suffer under this broken law anymore.’” [Sen. Steve Daines Press Release, 7/28/17

Daines Refuses To Condemn The Texas Lawsuit That Would Rip Coverage Away From More Than 112,000 Montanans

President Trump is trying to rip away our health care by going to court to eliminate the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. If the Texas lawsuit is successful, it will strip coverage from millions of Americans, raise premiums, end protections for people with pre-existing conditions, put insurance companies back in charge, and force seniors to pay more for prescription drugs. 

2020: Daines Refused To Answer Questions About The Texas Lawsuit. “Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who could face a challenge from his state’s governor, Democrat Steve Bullock, did not directly answer when asked if he supports the lawsuit, simply saying ‘we’re going to be talking about a lot between now and next year’ before walking into the Senate chamber. Daines spokeswoman Katie Schoettler later added in an email: ‘Obamacare has been disastrous for Montana and dramatically increased healthcare costs for Montanans. The Senator thinks that regardless of the outcome, Congress must protect people with preexisting conditions.’” [The Hill, 3/6/20

Daines Voted For The Tax Bill Which Forms The Basis For The Trump-Republican Lawsuit. Daines was a key vote for the Republican tax bill, which repealed a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that required most people to have health coverage and which is the basis of the Trump-Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. 

Daines Refused To Support Authorizing The Senate Legal Counsel To Intervene In The Trump-Republican Lawsuit And Defend The ACA. Daines refused to sponsor a resolution (S. Res. 18), which would authorize Senate legal counsel to defend the Affordable Care Act against attack in Texas v. Azar.

If the Texas lawsuit is successful:

  • 112,000 Montanans could lose coverage. According to the Urban Institute, 112,000 Montanans would lose coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act, leading to a 126 percent increase in the uninsured rate.
  • 7,000 Montana young adults with their parents’ coverage could lose care. Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of young adults are able to stay on their parents’ care until age 26.
  • Montanans would lose important federal health care funding — an estimated reduction of $1.1 billion in the first year. The Urban Institute estimates that a full repeal of the ACA would reduce federal spending on Montanans’ Medicaid/CHIP care and Marketplace subsidies by $1.1 billion, or 49.2 percent in the first year.
  • Insurance companies would be put back in charge, ending protections for the 425,900 Montanans with a pre-existing condition. 425,900 Montanans have a pre-existing condition, including 54,000 Montana children, 206,000 Montana women, and 116,400 Montanans between ages 55 and 64. 

Daines Has Voted To Slash Medicare And Medicaid

2017: Daines Voted To Cut Medicare By $473 Billion. Daines voted for the FY 2018 budget resolution, which included $473 billion in cuts to Medicare over 10 years. [H Con Res 71, Vote #245, 10/19/17; Vox, 10/26/17

2017: Daines Voted To Slash $1.3 Trillion From Medicaid. Daines voted for the FY 2018 budget resolution, which cut funding for non-Medicare health programs, most notably Medicaid, by 1.3 trillion, a 20 percent cut over the course of 10 years, increasing to a 29.3 percent cut by 2027. [H Con Res 71, Vote #245, 10/19/17; Vox, 10/26/17

Daines Was Supportive Of The Graham-Cassidy-Heller Bill Which Would Have Slashed Medicaid Funding For Montana. “Republican Steve Daines said the GOP’s latest attempt at a health care re-do could be good for Montana. The Graham-Cassidy bill would replace current flow of the federal money for Medicaid and other ACA subsidies with block grants. Those block grants will be smaller than current federal ACA support levels in some states, but Daines said it looks like Montana will receive more money. Dating back to his 2013 term in the U.S. House, Daines has been a consistent yes vote for repealing the ACA. ‘You look at what’s going on in Montana with the fiscal situation,’ Daines said. ‘The governor has a train wreck going on. Under the current Obamacare legislation, Medicaid is on a glide path, down from 100 percent to 90 percent. That shift, under current law, will even add more fuel.’” [Billings Gazette, 9/20/17

  • Avalere: $4 Trillion Cut To States Over Next Two Decades, Including $11 Billion Cut To Montanans. Independent analysts at Avalere estimated that states collectively would lose $215 billion from 2020 to 2026 from the plans block grants and Medicaid cap, another $283 billion in 2027 when the block grant funding disappears altogether and $4 trillion over the next two decades. Montana would see a $1 billion reduction in 2027 and a $11 billion cut over two decades.
  • 54,775 Montanans Enrolled Through Medicaid Expansion At Risk. The Graham-Cassidy bill would eliminate Medicaid expansion, which has helped 54,775 Montanans receive quality, affordable coverage, and put part of its funding into inadequate block grants. The bill would further punish states that expanded Medicaid by redistributing funds to states that did not expand Medicaid.

Daines Supports “Junk” Insurance Plans That Can Refuse To Cover Pre-Existing Conditions

2019: Daines Voted To Uphold The Expansion Of “Junk” Insurance Plans. Daines voted against a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn a Trump administration health care policy that allows the expansion of short term health care plans that do not have to guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions or cover essential health benefits. [SJ Res 52, Roll Call Vote #337, 10/30/19

2018: Daines Voted To Allow The Expansion Of “Junk” Insurance Plans. Daines voted against a resolution to block President Trump from expanding access to short-term health care plans. [SJ Res 63, Roll Call Vote #226, 10/10/18

Junk plans allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, limit care, and put consumers at risk of financial ruin and limit the care consumers get: 

  • Junk Plans Are Allowed To Discriminate Against People With Pre-Existing Conditions. “Policyholders who get sick may be investigated by the insurer to determine whether the newly-diagnosed condition could be considered pre-existing and so excluded from coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
  • As Many As 130 Million Nonelderly Americans Have A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]
  • 1 in 4 Children Would Be Impacted If Insurance Companies Could Deny Or Charge More Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]
  • Junk Plans Can Refuse To Cover Essential Health Benefits. “Typical short-term policies do not cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits, and may limit coverage in other ways.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
  • Under Many Junk Plans, Benefits Are Capped At $1 Million Or Less. Short-term plans can impose lifetime and annual limits – “for example, many policies cap covered benefits at $1 million or less.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
  • Commonwealth Fund: “Cost Sharing Designs In Short-Term Coverage Leave Members Facing Major, Unpredictable Financial Risk.” “The out-of-pocket maximum for each best-selling plan is higher than that allowed in individual or employer plans under the ACA, when adjusting for the shorter plan duration. When considering the deductible, the best-selling plans have out-of-pocket maximums ranging from $7,000 to $20,000 for just three months of coverage. In comparison, the ACA limits out-of-pocket maximums to $7,150 for the entire year.” [Commonwealth Fund, 8/11/17]
  • Short-Term Junk Plans Can Retroactively Cancel Coverage After Patients File Claims. “Individuals in STLDI plans would be at risk for rescission. Rescissions are retroactive cancellations of coverage, often occurring after individuals file claims due to medical necessity. While enrollees in ACA coverage cannot have their policy retroactively cancelled, enrollees in STLDI plans can.” [Wakely/ACAP, April 2018]

Daines, A Big Recipient Of Pharmaceutical Cash, Has Refused To Support Medicare Drug Price Negotiations

After nearly a full term in office, Steve Daines has never taken a position on allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices, while accepting more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical giants.  Daines also voted for the 2017 GOP tax law — a giveaway to big pharma so large that just four pharmaceutical companies pocketed a massive $7 billion in tax savings in 2018 alone, all while prices for patients continue to rise. 

Daines Has Received Over $100,000 In Pharma Contributions Over His Career. From 2007-2020 Daines has received $110,000 in contributions from pharmaceutical companies. [Kaiser Health News, 9/3/19

  • Daines Claims That He Doesn’t Let His Contributions From Big Pharma Affect His Votes. “Greg Findley pointed to data compiled by Kaiser Health News that shows Daines has accepted $50,000 from pharmaceutical companies so far this election cycle. Tester has received $12,500, while Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Bozeman Republican, has received $4,000. ‘Might it be better if we got pharmaceutical money and big industry money out of politics?’ he asked. Daines said he doesn’t let donations affect the way he votes. ‘If the pharma companies go home unhappy and Montanans go home happier, I’m doing the right thing,’ he said.” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 9/14/19

Daines Supports Drug Pricing Legislation From Chuck Grassley That Does Not Include Medicare Negotiations. “A bipartisan attempt to cut prescription drug costs more than $100 billion passed out of Senate Finance Committee with the support of the U.S. Sen. Steve Daines. […] The bill is known as the ‘Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019.’ ‘What we saw today is that bipartisan compromise isn’t dead. Today was about making life easier for Montanans,’ Daines said in a post-vote press conference. Daines is a Senate Finance Committee member. ‘It’s about cutting out-of-pocket costs and lowering prescription drug costs for seniors, for hardworking moms and dads, for grandmas and grandpas, frankly for Montanans in every corner of our state.’” [Billings Gazette, 7/25/19

Daines Claims That Rural Hospitals Are “Critical” But His Policies Could Force Hospital Closures In Montana

Daines Called Rural Hospitals Critical. “U.S. Senator Steve Daines today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price regarding health care in rural America. The letter emphasizes the importance of rural health-care providers and their critical role in rural communities. ‘As you take on this new leadership role at HHS, we request that you work with us to ensure that the federal government does not act as an impediment to providing health care in rural communities,’ Daines wrote. ‘Overreaching and onerous regulations from Washington disproportionately harm rural America. We believe that together we can enact and implement effective policies that help providers innovate in care delivery and enable them to make efficient use of available resources.’” [Sen. Steve Daines Press Release, 2/15/17

HEADLINE: “Rural hospitals rely on Medicaid expansion to stay open, study shows” [PBS Newshour, 1/9/18

ACA Repeal Like The Bills Daines Voted For Could Cost Montana Rural Health Providers Millions Of Dollars And “Cripple Rural America.” “The election in November of Republican majorities in the House and Senate and a Republican president means the Affordable Care Act is likely to be repealed when the new Congress convenes in January. But many Montanans, despite significant criticism of the law known as Obamacare, wonder what the future of affordable health care will look like for thousands of people in this state if it goes away. In an effort to understand community perspective, Senator Jon Tester met with some of those Montanans, along with about 25 healthcare professionals from various facilities, at Missoula’s Providence St. Patrick Hospital Saturday afternoon for a Missoula Healthcare Roundtable. Although Tester, a Democrat, started the discussion with introductions, he quickly turned it over to the participants with a single question: How would a potential partial or full repeal of the ACA impact your community? For Mineral County, a repeal of the ACA without an immediate similar or better healthcare plan could mean the loss of the county’s only hospital, according to Ron Gleason, CEO of Mineral Community Hospital. The hospital treats everyone in Mineral County, which Gleason said has a large low-income and veteran population, and is operating with a minimum staff. Gleason said the hospital will be closing its assisted living center in February and a repeal of the ACA would mean a loss of even more funding. If Mineral Community Hospital closed, Gleason said there wouldn’t be another health center for miles, and much of the population would move or be left without care. […] Rural Community Health Centers, which serve more than 100,000 people, could face the loss of 70 percent of their funding. Tester said Lincoln County alone could lose up to $2.5 million a year in asbestos-related disease screening and support. Ken Burd, a Granite County Hospital board member, said the loss of the ACA would set off a series of unintentional events that would eventually cripple rural America. Rural America, Burd said, depends on blue collar, industrial jobs and recreational outdoor activity, both of which are injury prone. Without affordable emergency care, people will stop working industrial jobs and move away from rural America. ‘So this would have larger impacts socially and economically than I think people are looking at now,’ Burd said.” [Missoulian, 1/7/17

Rural Health In Montana By The Numbers


  • 64 percent of Montana’s non-elderly population lives in a non-metro rural area or small town
  • 17 percent of Montanans living in rural areas are uninsured, compared to 17 percent of Montanans living in nonrural areas.
  • Since the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate has fallen by 10 percent in rural parts of Montana.
  • 17 percent of Montanans living in rural areas have health coverage through Medicaid. 
  • The Affordable Care Act led to a $40 million reduction in Montana uncompensated care costs. Between 2013 and 2015, Montana hospitals’ uncompensated care costs decreased by $40 million, or roughly 22 percent.
  • In Montana, where lawmakers expanded Medicaid, no rural hospitals have closed since 2010.