Common questions and answers about I-185
Initiative #185: A law proposed by initiative petition
Healthy Montana is an initiative to raise the state tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products including untaxed electronic tobacco products like e-cigarettes. Increasing fees on tobacco saves both lives and money by preventing kids from smoking and reducing the toll of cancer and heart disease on our health and our economy. This initiative prevents nearly 100,000 Montanans from losing their health coverage. It also provides needed funds for veterans suicide prevention programs, health services to help seniors and people with disabilities stay in their homes, and programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.
Check out some common answers to common questions on the matter. Read and decide for yourself.
Will this tax everyone? The ads say that everyone will pay.
If you don’t smoke, you won’t pay. I-185 raises taxes on tobacco products, and amends the definition to include e-cigarettes and vaping products (which are currently not taxed in Montana). If you don’t use these products, the tax will not affect you.
Big Tobacco is spending millions on a campaign to spread misinformation about I-185. “Montanans Against Tax Hikes,” the same party named in a dark money political practices complaint, is running misleading ads designed to confuse voters and protect Big Tobacco’s profits in Montana.
The truth: All Montanans pay more for health care and more in taxes because of tobacco. This tax makes tobacco pay.
Is this tax in addition to the current tax, or is it $2 total?
The $2.00 refers to the tax on cigarettes, for a total tax of $3.70 per pack.
Details on the tax: The tax increase on cigarettes is $2/pack; on moist snuff to the greatest of 83% of wholesale or $3.70 per 1.2 ounces; by 33% points of the wholesale price for all other tobacco products including new taxes on e-cigarettes and vaping products.
I thought the hospital was a nonprofit and not able to support political initiatives?
Yes, as outlined by our legal team at KRH, we can support an initiative, and all Kalispell Regional Healthcare facilities have formally endorsed I-185. We can ask our community to vote yes, we can ask employees to vote, and we can share information.
As a nonprofit 501 (c)(3), we cannot support a specific candidate or attach voting to employment (as always, whether you vote and how you vote is entirely your choice). Also, all activity is reportable activity, so we are keeping track of our engagement to be transparent.
I’ve heard that the money goes into the general fund and doesn’t even help Medicaid or veterans. Is that true?
I-185 dedicates over 85% of the new revenue to fund new and continued health services, including Medicaid, services for veterans, and seniors.
I-185 also would prevent nearly 100,000 Montanans from losing Medicaid coverage, which includes thousands of Montana veterans and their families who have sacrificed for us and are now eligible for Medicaid.
What veterans programs does it help support? How much money goes to that?
Percentage of New Revenue, based on formula within I-185
(government funds, not Kalispell Regional Healthcare or North Valley Hospital funds)
- HELP Act (Medicaid expansion) - 52%
- Veteran services - 4%
- Home and Community-Based Services - 10%
- Smoking Cessation - 6%
- Veteran Homes (existing account) - 2.3%
- Medicaid and Health Services (existing account) - 12.3%
- Long-range Building (existing account) - 0.7%
- General Fund (existing account) - 12.6%
People are commenting a lot on social media. Where is this coming from?
There is a lot of information on social media related to this initiative, including information that may be misleading or untrue. Remember to search for information from reliable sources. It is healthy to be skeptical if you do not personally know individuals that are commenting and responding to comments.
There are different types of activities taking place on social media, including comments from opposing interests and from “bots.” Bots create an automated dialogue between pages and their followers. Some mimic the behavior of real users.
Remember to search for information with reliable sources (via authorized websites) and stay away from engaging on social media in arguments designed to distract Montanans from the truth.
People keep asking if the hospitals just want the money. Is that true?
Kalispell Regional Healthcare would not spend time promoting this initiative if it wasn’t directly related to healthcare and focused on our patients. All of the programs the initiative supports will improve the health of Montanans.
Additionally, some of the funding goes towards Medicaid expansion, which provides financial support for treatment and care for patients in need. As a healthcare system, we wholeheartedly support the health and wellness of our patients and community.
Check out all the details. Investigate the details. Go to the Healthy Montana website for more information.