Tobacco tax hike for Medicaid expansion rejected

Montana voters have rejected a ballot measure that sought to extend the state's Medicaid program and pay for it in part by raising the tobacco tax.

The result from Tuesday's election means the expanded Medicaid program covering 96,000 people will expire next year unless the Montana Legislature renews it.

One of the nation's largest tobacco companies led an expensive campaign to defeat the measure. Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris and poured more than $17 million into the race.

The initiative would have continued the expansion program indefinitely. Up to $26 million from the tobacco tax increase would have gone to offset the program's increasing costs to the state.

The tax hike would have raised the price on a pack of cigarettes by $2, raised snuff prices and taxed vaping products for the first time.

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