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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Sees Drop In Uninsured, Slowdown In Healthcare Spending

healthcare.gov website

There are about three percent fewer Montanans without health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act. That’s according to University of Montana Economist Bryce Ward. He says the ACA is responsible for even bigger drops in the number of uninsured in other states.

"If the ACA stays around, we expect to continue to see the share of people without health insurance declining over the next few years."

Speaking at the University of Montana's annual economic outlook seminar in Missoula Friday, Ward said there’s also been a significant reduction in health care spending since the year before the ACA passed.

"We’ve seen this real slowdown in health care spending growth, and it goes back to about 2009. And in 2013, the last year for which we have full data, health care spending only grew at 3.6 percent, which, since the federal government has been tracking this statistic in 1960, that’s the lowest we’ve ever seen. That’s a big deal."

Ward says that if the state legislature votes to accept the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, it would add $200 million in federal funding to Montana’s economy in 2016.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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