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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Officials Hear Update On HELP Act's Job Training Component

The Capitol dome in Helena, MT.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio
Montana Capitol dome.

Montana’s Medicaid expansionprogram 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.61,000 Montanans are now covered through the Medicaid expansion narrowly passed by state lawmakers in 2015.

"The Help Act on the Medicaid expansion side has been a ragin' cagin' success," says John Goodnow, the Chair of the HELP Act oversight committee. He’s also the CEO of Benefis Health System in Great Falls.

Goodnow says the job services component of the law needs to improve.

Right now, about 10 percent of new HELP Act enrollees connect with Montana Labor officials for the voluntary job training program. Fewer complete the training.

It’s largely because of the workforce program that Republicans supported the Medicaid expansion bill, hoping it would provide job skills to enrollees that would lead to them eventually not needing government assistance.

Montana Department of Labor and Industry officials agreed during Tuesday’s meeting to create a list of 10 ways to improve the workforce program of the HELP Act.

Oversight Committee Chair John Goodnow says the committee will also keep an eye on what President-elect Donald Trump does in his first 100 days of office.  The Affordable Care Act, which Trump has at times called for repealing and replacing, funds Montana’s Medicaid expansion.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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