Affordable Care Act

Montana CSI

Jennifer McKee from the office of the Montana Commissioner for Securities and Insurance talks with MTPR News Director Eric Whitney about the first tally of Montanans using to enroll in the Affordable Care Act.


2011 Century Council

Montana Governor Steve Bullock discusses Medicaid expansion, early-childhood education, infrastructure spending, the upcoming legislature, and more with "Home Ground" host Brian Kahn.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

Medicaid Expansion

Gov. Bullock says the "Healthy Montana" plan is a unique solution that will insure thousands of Montanans and help relieve the burden of uncompensated care on small hospitals.

Courtesy Partnership Health Center

An important deadline is fast approaching for those who want an Affordable Care Act health plan that takes effect on January first. Applicants must be enrolled by the end of business on Monday, December 15.

Those who've already signed up, but want to make last minute changes, face the same deadline.

Partnership Health Center's Sandra Mytty says she and her staff have helped lots of people in the Missoula area select policies.

"We're actually doing really well. Since we started we've helped over 350 people since November 15 and we're still going."

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana is paying $1 million to the state to settle more than three hundred consumer complaints.

State Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen says the complaints mostly came from people who bought policies on the new health insurance exchange last year. Lindeen says every insurance company had problems with the rollout, but the problems with Blue Cross-Blue Shield were extreme.

Eric Whitney

Saturday was the start of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for 2015. It’s is the second year most Americans will be required to have health insurance or face a tax penalty.

There were at least two events on Saturday in the MTPR listening area to help people shop for coverage, and investigate whether they qualify for a subsidy to help them afford it. One at the Great Falls Public Library, the other at Missoula County’s fairgrounds.

The Missoula Indian Center sponsored the event in Missoula, but it was open to anyone.

Montanans who buy their own health insurance, or who want to, can start buying policies for next year starting on Saturday. It’s the beginning of the Affordable Care Act’s second so-called “open enrollment” period.

The process will be similar to last year, but significantly different, says Adam Schafer, at the Montana insurance commissioner’s office.

"Folks should not experience the same problems that came up last year," he says.

Republican Congressman Steve Daines didn't respond to Democrat Amanda Curtis's jabs during last night’s U.S. Senate debate in Billings.

Curtis said several times that Daines is too extreme for Montana and represents corporate interests over average Montanans. She says it's time to send a working-class Montanan to represent the state in Washington D.C.

Curtis also said Daines' vote last year to shut down the federal government during a budget stalemate hurt Montanans.

Democrats Hope To Shrink GOP Majorities In Montana Legislature

Oct 20, 2014

From the seat of his combine in the Helena Valley, Republican Senate candidate Joe Dooling talked about why he decided to run for the Legislature.

“I’m just wondering where all the grownups are,” he said.

The 2013 legislative session was marked by a split between conservatives and moderates in the Republican majority, at least one day of banging on tables and more than 70 vetoes from Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat. Dooling said he was frustrated by all of it.

"Campaign Beat," our weekly political analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the fall election season.

Former MTPR news director and now senior news analyst, Sally Mauk, hosts the program. She's  joined by Lee newspapers Capitol reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.

Three Montana groups are getting more than $600,000 in grants to help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The so-called Navigator grants are for groups that will provide in-person assistance to people shopping for health care coverage on or through other sources.

Intermountain Planned Parenthood will get $292,000. The Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council will get $142,000, and Montana Health Network will get $175,000.

I want to tell you a familiar story. A young man, we’ll call him Joe, he doesn't make a lot of money, has a toothache and needs to see a dentist, but doesn’t have dental insurance. In a lot of communities this guy is going to land in the emergency room, get some pain meds, maybe antibiotics, and then he’ll call all over town trying to find a dentist he can afford.

Energy, Agriculture, And Suing The President

Aug 1, 2014

This week in Montana politics: Walsh tries to weather the plagiarism storm, Zinke presents his energy plan, Lewis promotes his "Farm and Ranch Jobs Platform", Daines votes to sue the President.

Walsh Plagiarism

Montana Politics Week In Review

Jul 18, 2014

NorthWestern Energy Dam Buyback

Dear SCOTUS: Women Are People, Too

Jul 11, 2014

This week the Supreme Court ruled, again, that corporations are people – and essentially that women are not. In an impressive misuse of legal theory, a fundamental misunderstanding of science and anatomy, and a blatant disregard for the rights of women, the Supreme Court decided in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that “closely held” for-profit corporations have religious rights and can use them to prevent employees from getting the health care they need.

Montana politicians and interest groups were divided along party lines over this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning the Affordable Care Act's birth control coverage mandate. In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held private corporations do not have to provide birth control as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, if the corporations have religious objections to birth control.

Edward O'Brien

A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled this week that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. That marks the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.
     The justices' 5-4 decision means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under the health insurance plans of objecting companies, such as Hobby Lobby.

Healthy Montana Initiative

Organizers of the Healthy Montana Initiative - an effort to expand Medicaid to 70-thousand Montanans - conceded defeat today, but vow to continue to support the issue.

Healthy Montana Initiative president, Kim Abbott, says I-170 will not qualify for the November ballot.

As the incumbent, John Walsh has an apparent advantage over his two opponents - John Bohlinger and Dirk Adams - in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Former Republican state legislator and lieutenant governor John Bohlinger wants to be Montana's next democratic U.S. Senator.

Bohlinger is an ex-Marine and former Billings businessman who served five terms in the legislature and two terms as the Republican lieutenant governor with democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer.

William Marcus

With the biggest war chest, and the most name recognition, Congressman Steve Daines has a clear edge over his opponents Champ Edmunds and Susan Cundiff in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. The former Bozeman businessman is serving his first - and possibly - last term as Montana's lone representative in the U.S. House. Now he wants to win the Senate seat, long held by democrat Max Baucus, back for the Republican party.
    In this feature interview, Daines talks with News Director Sally Mauk about his campaign - and about some of the current issues facing Congress.


The number of Montanans applying for health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act continues to climb. Residents signed up for about 4,000 plans on the state’s online Obamacare marketplace in the month of February. That makes nearly 23,000 plans since the marketplace opened last fall.

The rate of signups sits above the national average, according to Mike Dennison with Lee Newspapers.

As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack is in charge of a lot more than the nation's food policy. His agency also oversees management of our national forests, and as a member of the Cabinet, he advises the president on everything from the farm bill - to the impacts of climate change.

In this feature interview, Vilsack talks with News Director Sally Mauk about those issues and more - starting with why he thinks the Affordable Care Act is a good deal for rural Americans.


1/30/2014 - Intelligence Squared US presents - With the disastrous launch of the website, critics of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” were given more fuel for the fire. Is this political hot potato's inevitability once again at stake? And is the medical community really on board with the law, or resisting (rewriting?) it from the sidelines?

A ballot initiative which would expand Medicaid in Montana has run into a hang-up after the Attorney General’s office noted a legal issue with the proposal.

Supporters of the so-called “Healthy Montana Initiative” have filed a corrected version to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office.

This will shorten the amount of time the initiative has to gather signatures to be placed on the 2014 ballot.

Republican lawmakers during the 2013 legislature blocked passage of Medicaid Expansion, an optional piece of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Daines gets an earful from Obamacare skeptics

Jan 6, 2014
Dan Boyce

Montana Congressman Steve Daines held a roundtable discussion Monday to discuss negative impacts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“My objective here today is to learn and listen,” Daines told the group gathered at the Montana Chamber of Commerce Building in Helena.

Daines heard from small business owners who complained of higher insurance rates stemming from mandated changes to policies. Another woman said her planned kidney transplant was put on hold as she navigated from her old insurance plan to a new one as a result of the law.

Dan Boyce

Officials with the Montana University System said this week the Affordable Care Act is creating problems for the health insurance plan offered to students at the state’s public universities.

Those students need to have some kind of health insurance. For years, the university plan has offered a reasonably priced alternative for students not on their parents’ plan.

But that may be in jeopardy.

A Missoula writer and member of the Blackfeet Tribe has announced her run for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat as a Democrat.

Melinda Gopher ran for the seat in 2010, coming in third in the Democratic Primary. She is running a campaign focused on bucking the Democratic establishment.

“We have a power elite that has abused the Indian vote for a long time in the state, and that power elite has been led by Senator Baucus,” Gopher said.

Dan Boyce

Montana Insurance companies are looking over their options after President Obama’s Thursday announcement regarding the Affordable Care Act. The President said some insurance plans about to be cancelled for not following the new healthcare law will be allowed to continue for one more year.

Montana’s Insurance commissioner said the announcement throws years of planning for ObamaCare into a tailspin.

Few uninsured Montanans go without coverage voluntarily, says a new report released Monday by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

“That means that had insurance been available, they would have taken it,” said the bureau’s Interim Health Care Research Director, Paul Polzin.

Monica Lindeen
Courtesy Monica Lindeen

  The state’s insurance commissioner says Montanans are still having problems signing up for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act online marketplace. Most states, including Montana, opted to let the Federal Government run their Obamacare market. The federal site has been plagued with glitches and technical problems for three weeks now, and it is not clear when they will all be fixed.

Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen said Wednesday that is not acceptable.