MTPR

Affordable Care Act

U.S. House candidates Denise Juneau and Ryan Zinke stand on stage at Frazer High School for their first debate on August 29, 2016
Eric Whitney

The first debate between Montana’s major party candidates for its lone seat in the U.S. House was last night. It was colored by both national politics, and the very local concerns of the community that hosted it — the tiny town of Frazer on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeast Montana.

Health insurance companies selling individual policies in Montana say they have to raise their prices next year. But the federal government says it won’t be as bad as the headlines suggest. The Obama administration says most Americans don’t have to worry about possible spikes in premium rates next year.

Commissioner of Securities & Insurance Monica Lindeen.
Eric Whitney

If you want to know why health insurance companies in Montana are asking for big price increases on some of the policies they sell here next year, there are some easy answers – but they only tell part of the story.

Gov. Bullock signs the Medicaid expansion plan into law on April 29 at the captiol. The bill's sponsor Sen. Ed Buttrey, and supporter Stephanie Wallace look on.
Steve Jess

Backers of Montana’s seven-month-old Medicaid expansion say they’re pleased with the first set of financial data released this week.

State figures say enrollment as of July is nearly double initial projections, at 47,399 of the 25,000 who were expected to enroll by now.

The number of Montanans without health insurance has dropped by half in the last year. That's according to State Auditor Monica Lindeen.

The three health insurance companies that sell individual policies in Montana say they need to increase their prices significantly next year. They're asking Montana's Health Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen to approve average premium increases for individual health plans that range from 20 to 62 percent. In the small group market, the insurers are proposing premium increases of three percent to 32 percent. 

A new survey done by the University of Montana and Stanford University reveals some surprising opinions on health care in Montana. The statewide representative sample poll was done over landlines and cell phones in February in advance of a conference last week at UM.

Montana DPHHS

The special state committee set up to oversee Medicaid expansion in Montana got its first progress report since expansion began January 1.

"This is just incredible success we’re having," Marie Matthews with the state health department told the committee. "This program has already saved the state general fund about $3 million," she said.

Governor Bullock & Pam Bucy launching the HELP-Link program Feb. 08, 2015 in Great Falls.
Corin Cates-Carney

On Monday, the next phase of Montana’s Medicaid expansion was announced at a job service center in Great Falls. Expanding Medicaid under the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act was a hard sell to Montana Republicans in the 2015 legislature until Republican Senator Ed Buttrey introduced a workforce initiative into the healthcare bill, among other changes.

UM economist Bryce Ward says Montana will need 16,000 additional healthcare workers by 2025.
(PD)

Audio Pending...

Growing demand for healthcare means that Montana is going to need 40 percent more healthcare workers in a decade than it has now. That’s according to University of Montana Economist Bryce Ward. He says that just to meet the projected growth in demand, the state will need 7,000 more healthcare workers by 2025.

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