MTPR

Ed Buttrey

Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

Montana state lawmakers will get a slight uptick in their pay during the next legislative session. The roughly 20 cent per hour raise was part of a 1 percent increase to all state employees’ pay approved  last year. Lawmakers are also looking at ways to update their budgets for communicating with constituents.

Kristin Page-Nei, one of the authors of I-185, speaks in support of the initiative in Helena, April 19, 2018. The ballot initiative proposes increasing tobacco taxes to raise money for health care programs, including Medicaid expansion.
Corin-Cates Carney

Montana’s Medicaid expansion program, which provides more than 93,000 people in the state health coverage, expires in just over a year. Campaigns are now underway to stop that from happening and to lobby support for the health care program.

Governor Steve Bullock launched a statewide tour today to, in his words, "highlight the health and economic benefits of Medicaid" in Montana.

At Missoula’s Providence Hospital, Bullock cited a University of Montana economic analysis released last week that says the Medicaid expansion Montana launched in 2015 will pay for itself. It found that expansion offsets other state agency costs, and yields economic benefits that exceed state spending on Medicaid expansion.

Hospital monitor.
Josh Burnham

The hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars that Medicaid expansion is bringing to Montana have added thousands of jobs here and significantly boosted the state’s economy. It’s enough of a boost to pay for Montana’s share of the jointly-funded health program.

That’s according to a new report by Economist Bryce Ward with the UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. He summarized it for a legislative oversight committee Thursday.

Ongoing budget cuts mean the State of Montana has ended a contract that paid a big health insurance company $6 million a year to manage Medicaid recipients. That’s more than twice as much as it allocates to the state health department for similar work.

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