MTPR

Medicaid

This map shows spending on health care services via Medicaid expansion by county since January, 2016
Montana DPHHS

A new report says that Medicaid expansion has saved Montana more than $30 million in its first 18 months.

"Medicaid expansion continues to be a stunning success for Montana," said Shiela Hogan, director of Montana's Department of Health and Human Services. "There's no denying this."

Hundreds showed up to testify in Helena against cuts to Medicaid, July 27, 2017.
Eric Whitney

"These are no doubt difficult times."

That’s Sheila Hogan, the head of Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services Thursday. She was kicking off a hearing on a planned cut to how much the department will pay doctors, hospitals and other health workers who take care of people on Medicaid.

William Buck, who owns Shepherd's Way assisted living facility in Lewistown says planned cuts to Medicaid would be "devastating."
Eric Whitney

Hundreds of people packed an auditorium in Helena Thursday to protest planned cuts to Medicaid.

"This 3.47 percent cut is devastating," says William Buck, who owns Shepherd's Way assisted living facility in Lewistown.

Interim Indian Health Service Director Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee
YouTube

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester wants to know how the Trump administration’s proposed 2018 federal budget will affect the Indian Health Service.

So, on Wednesday Tester turned to the troubled agency’s new acting director, Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee for answers.

It didn’t go well.

Weahkee could not explain how much money IHS is billing Medicaid to help keep the agency running.

Daines, Tester Voice Their Thoughts On GOP Healthcare

Jun 30, 2017

 

Members of Congress are home for their 4th of July recess without voting on the Republican’s health care proposal.

Sen. Steve Daines during a June 28 telephone town hall meeting on healthcare.
Courtesy Steve Daines.

Senator Steve Daines says he wants to hear from Montanans before deciding how he’ll vote on the Republican health care proposal currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.

And hear from them, Daines did Wednesday night during his 17th live healthcare tele-town hall meeting.

Daines faced an earnest and sometimes feisty series of questions from Montanans trying to make sense of the complicated healthcare debate:

The public may get a look at a draft of the Senate healthcare bill for the first time this week. What’s it mean for Montana? Here's what the CEO of one health insurance company based in Helena says about it:

"I don't think that their plan is going to improve health care in the state of Montana. I think just the opposite is going to happen. And I think, I really do think a lot of people are going to get hurt."

Montana Insurers Propose Rate Increases From 2 - 23 Percent
(PD)

More than 70,000 Montanans would lose health coverage under the health care bill being considered by Congress, and the state would lose $4.8 billion in federal funding.

Senator Daines Urged To Protect Medicaid

Jun 6, 2017
Naomi Gerheim spoke at the event Tuesday
Edward O'Brien

About fifty people gathered Tuesday at the Missoula office of Montana Senator Steve Daines. Their message was loud and clear.

Two-year-old Serenity, who’s nickname is Blueberry, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Rainie Bunn

Healthcare is very much in the news these days, mostly the political news. But we recently got a phone call from a Montana mom that reminds us what healthcare is really all about.

Her name is Rainie Bunn. She’s from Forsyth, and has three little girls; a set of twins and a two-year-old named Serenity, who’s nickname is Blueberry.

"In the end of October last year, Blueberry just woke up with a black eye one day," Bunn told me.

Greg Gianforte, Rob Quist and Mark Wicks at the MTN News debate April 29, 2017.
Screen capture courtesy MTN News

Mark Wicks, the Libertarian candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat, got statewide exposure in the race’s only televised debate Friday, produced and broadcast by MTN News.

"We’ve been doing the same thing over and over and over, and we get the same result: People back in Washington that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to because they’re beholden to special interests, they’re taking lobbyist money. I’m not beholden to any of that." Wicks said during the debate.

 Montana’s Spending on substance use disorder treatment by funding source, fiscal year 2016
Montana Healthcare Foundation

There’s long been an imbalance in the number of Montanans who need help beating alcoholism and drug abuse and the amount of treatment programs available.

Lately, those consequences are showing up in the state’s foster care system. The number of children needing care due to drug use problems in their parents has doubled since 2010, and the number of babies born drug-affected has tripled since then.

Those numbers are from a new report by the Montana Healthcare Foundation, which also says the state now has a golden opportunity to dramatically increase the availability of drug and alcohol treatment services.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

All day Thursday in the House Chambers at the state capitol, Democrats rose to their feet asking for more funding in the state budget shaped by the Republican majority. All of those proposals were rejected before the budget passed second reading along party lines.

Lawmakers overseeing the state budget, today started working to fill in a financial gap in state health department programs for senior citizens and people with disabilities. But, it’s unclear where some of that money is coming from.

A new report says Montana stands to lose more than $284 million in healthcare funding if Congress repeals the Medicaid expansion that’s part of the Affordable Care Act.
Courtesy

A new report says Montana stands to lose more than $284 million in healthcare funding if Congress repeals the Medicaid expansion that’s part of the Affordable Care Act.

Montana Republicans Want $5.5 Million To Grow Healthcare Program
(PD)

Two Republican state lawmakers from Hamilton are asking for $5.5 million to expand a healthcare program.

Crystal Methampetamine, or "meth."
File photo (PD)

Montana lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, along with state agency workers and members of the public convened in Helena Saturday with one big problem to discuss.

"Without question, everyone in here, in this room, every citizen in this state, every resident of my community is affected by methamphetamine."

Sen. Jon Tester
U.S. Senate

Montana Senator Jon Tester met with President Donald Trump at the White House today. Tester, a Democrat, characterized the meeting as a ‘productive conversation’.

As lawmakers continue crafting the state’s budget, officials with Montana’s health department say the state’s Medicaid programs need more funds to keep up with caseloads. 

Josh Burnham

If you’re wondering how repealing the Affordable Care Act will impact Montana, Indian country is a good place to look.

To Native healthcare leaders, Obamacare provides a great opportunity to create jobs.

A graph from the Montana Budget and Policy Center's New Report
Montana Budget and Policy Center

If Congress and the Trump administration repeal the Affordable Care Act, 142,000 Montanans could potentially lose their health insurance coverage.

That’s according to a new report from the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

More than 60,000 Montanans now have health insurance because of the HELP Act, the Medicaid expansion program narrowly passed by state lawmakers in 2015. The oversight committee in charge of reviewing that program met in Helena on Tuesday to check in on the Medicaid expansion. 

John Goodnow, chair of the oversight committee, says because of the HELP Act, a lot of uninsured Montanans now have coverage: 

Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana’s Medicaid expansion program got a progress report today from an oversight committee of lawmakers and health care professionals. While the state’s uninsured rate continues to drop, the job services aspect of the HELP Act isn’t doing as well as supporters had hoped.

St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
Courtesy St. Patrick Hospital

In 2015, the Montana Hospital Association enthusiastically backed Medicaid expansion in Montana. A big reason was that in the first half of the year, they gave away nearly $71 million in free, or “charity” healthcare to people who had no health coverage.

After the legislature narrowly passed Medicaid expansion, Hospital Association President Dick Brown says, "the actual expectation was that charity care would go down, because a lot of the individuals who are now on Medicaid were receiving care at no cost to them, because they couldn’t afford it."

Veterans Advocate  Joe Parsetich joined Governor Steve Bullock and other dignitaries in Great Falls Sept. 15, to launch an outreach effort encouraging veterans to look into enrolling in Montana's newly-expanded Medicaid program.
Eric Whitney

Governor Steve Bullock says he's making a special effort to reach out to Montana's veterans to encourage them to look into Medicaid health coverage. In Great Falls, leaders of healthcare, veterans and civic groups joined him in doing so Thursday, Sept. 15. 

Governor Steve Bullock announcing a new healthcare reform initiative in Missoula Monday at Western Montana Clinic.
Eric Whitney

Montana has been invited to participate in a new phase of health care reform that some big players in the healthcare industry here say should save significant money. Governor Bullock made the announcement at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula Monday morning.

Gov. Bullock signs the Medicaid expansion plan into law on April 29, 2015 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.

More than 47,000 Montanans have enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program state lawmakers narrowly approved last year. The state health department reported updated numbers to the legislative committee that oversees Medicaid expansion today.

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.

Enrollment in Montana’s expanded Medicaid program is exceeding expectations, and so far has refunded $3 million to the state’s general fund.

That’s according to officials with the state health department who briefed a special expansion oversight committee today.

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