Montana Home and Community Care Act (2008)

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The Montana Home and Community Care Act, or I-159, was an initiated state statute that would have established a program to provide home care services to low-income disabled and elderly persons by individual home care providers. The initiative was withdrawn on June 25, 2008.[1]

Supporters worked to qualify the initiative for a spot on the November 2008 ballot in Montana. 22,308 valid signatures were required by the state's petition drive deadline of June 20, 2008.[2]

Under the program proposed by I-159, a home care recipient would have chosen an individual home care provider who was trained and certified by the state. Individual home care providers would have collectively bargained with the state, but only through a statewide union exclusively composed of individual providers, and they could have not have gone on strike.

Supporters

The author of the initiative was listed as Jonathan Motl. Motl was also the author of another initiative seeking to make the November 2008 ballot in Montana, I-155, the Healthy Montana Kids Act. The labor union SEIU was supporting the measure.[3]

Opponents

The Montana Health Care Association was opposed to I-159. Rose Hughes, executive director of the group, stated that I-159 "is mainly an effort to increase union membership in SEIU, disguised as an effort to improve in-home care in this state."

AARP Montana said that I-159 would have represented a "false promise", which could have ended up eroding the funding for other services to the elderly and could have imposed new annual costs for the state of $27 million by 2010 and $47 million by 2013. An AARP spokesperson also said, "If this initiative is adopted by voters, we fear it will create a significant unfunded mandate that will jeopardize the department's funding of existing critical programs."

Projected fiscal impact

The Montana state agency charged with estimating the fiscal impact of ballot initiatives stated that I-159 was projected to cost approximately $2.6 million of state funds the first year, increasing to $7 million by 2013, to train, certify, and supervise an increasing number of individual providers.

Withdrawal

On June 25, 2008, after facing political pressure from Democratic legislators and avocacy groups, SEIU announced the voluntary withdrawal of I-159. Spokespeople referred to the initiative as "complicated" and conceded that it contained too many issues. According to Ted Dick, political director of SEIU, the union "want[s] to go through the legislative process, so everybody can understand this issue a lot better." Dick also said the union would spend more of its efforts to help elect legislators who supported its vision of expanding in-home care. Senate President Mike Cooney said Democratic leaders committed to working on the issue in 2009.[4][5][6]

External links

References

  1. 2008 Ballot Issues Montana Secretary of State
  2. Great Falls Tribune, Petitioners gather at polling places for intiative support, June 4, 2008
  3. The Missoulian, Union backs I-159
  4. Under political pressure, union pulls home care initiative by Mike Dennison, BillingsGazette.com, June 26, 2008
  5. Update on I-159 Press Conference Montana Main Street Blog, June 25, 2008
  6. I-159, Home Health Care Off the Ballot, The Truth Montana Netroots, June 25, 2008

Additional reading