MTPR

Medicaid expansion

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.
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 .

Job Service officies statewide, like this one in Kalispell, are offering special help to new Medicaid recipients
Eric Whitney

Medicaid expansion barely passed Montana's Legislature last year. One of the reasons it was able to get enough Republican votes is because it included a component to encourage Medicaid recipients to get jobs, or better-paying jobs, so they could get off of Medicaid and buy their own health insurance. Tuesday afternoon, a legislative oversight committee is taking a look at how that work component is going.

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.

Healthcare professionals say that modern information sharing could improve healthcare and save money.
(PD)

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

Pages