Medicaid expansion

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."

William Marcus

A new budget analysis projects that the state’s general fund balance will fall by more than half by the end of 2017. That’s because state revenues are expected to continue declining into the next fiscal year.

Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote is the new director of Montana's Office of American Indian Health.
Courtesy Montana DPHHS

In Montana, the life expectancy for Native American people is 19 to 20 years shorter than for whites. The median age at death for Native men here is 56. It's 62 for Native women.

Those statistics, in part, motivated Governor Steve Bullock last year to create a new position in the state health department: Director of American Indian Health.

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. 

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.

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.

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

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.

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.