Several healthcare workers defended Cooney’s plan on Wednesday, including Celeste Thompson, the first Montana resident to sign up for expanded Medicaid. That measure was passed in 2015, the year Thompson learned that she had cancer.

Medicaid expansion provides health insurance to roughly 90,000 Montanans. If efforts to repeal the ACA succeed and Medicaid with it, Thompson said it would end her ability to receive care.

“I won’t be able to go to the doctor or dentist because it’s too expensive, and I can’t afford it,” she said. “I work and live paycheck to paycheck. My health would decline and my cancer could return. If they repeal the ACA and Medicaid expansion, thousands of Montanans would lose their healthcare.”

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