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Gianforte, Quist Weigh-In On Healthcare Bill

Screen capture from the American Health Care Act website,
Screen capture from the American Health Care Act website,

Montana didn’t have a vote on the healthcare bill that passed the U.S. House today. The state’s seat has been vacant since Ryan Zinke resigned it in March to become interior secretary.

Today the Greg Gianforte, Republican candidate to replace Zinke, talked to Montana Public Radio about the bill.

"I wasn’t privy to all the dialog in D.C., but it sounds like they’ve got something done, I look forward to studying it," Gianforte says. "I’ve been really clear that any repeal and replace had to do three things: get premiums down, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and protect rural access for Montanans."

Gianforte says he opposed the previous Republican healthcare bill because it did not meet his criteria. The House voted on the new bill today before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance to score it, making direct comparisons to the previous bill difficult.

"This is the problem with Obamacare," says Gianforte. "You know, we were promised a lot of things, and we got into this sticky mess in large part because people back in Congress said, well, we’ve got to pass it to figure out what’s in it. I think we ought to be a little more disciplined in understanding the implications of the bills we’re passing."

We asked Democratic candidate Rob Quistfor an interview on the bill. A campaign spokesperson told us, “Rob is in Browning and won't be able to get on the phone,” but they did send a statement.

"No Montanan would vote for this bill," Quist says in the statement.

Quist’s statement also attacks Gianforte:

"He’s all for de-funding Planned Parenthood, which this bill does. Montana deserves a Congressman who will speak out when something as disastrous as this bill that will raise healthcare costs for working Montanans," Quist says.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that the House bill would raise rates for Montanans buying health insurance in the state’s market for individual policies.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.