Updated numbers released in Montana show support for Montana’s initiative to place a $2 tax cigarettes and extend the state’s Medicaid is fading.
New numbers are in and 152,032 of ballots have so far been counted. The votes show 52% of people have said no to supporting the measure, while 48% are saying yes.
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With a few Montana precincts reporting so far, voters are showing support for a Montana initiative that would extend Montana’s Medicaid expansion by placing a tax on cigarettes.
With 123,582 of ballots counted, 54% of Montana voters have so far said yes to an increase in the state cigarette tax while 46% of Montana voters have so far said no.
I-185 will raise tobacco taxes to help pay for the state’s share of Medicaid costs, by $2 on a pack of cigarettes.
Supporters of I-185, led by state hospitals say Medicaid expansion will save the state money, so the $26 million in tobacco taxes generated by I-185 will cover state costs.
The Helena physician previously told MTN News that the higher tobacco taxes in I-185 will produce another health benefit: Stopping more kids from starting smoking in the first place.
“It’s a great investment for the state,” said physician Todd Wampler.
Medicaid expansion was approved by the Montana Legislature in 2015 to provide government-funded health coverage to childless adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – about $16,750 for a single person, or slightly below minimum wage.
The federal government will pay 90 percent of Medicaid expansion beginning in 2020.
Every county in the state has enrollees in the program with 62,000 enrollees living in the state’s eight most populous counties.