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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Budget Office Analysis Predicts Big Drop In Enrollment Under Republican Medicaid Expansion Bill

Rep. Ed Buttrey (R) - Great Falls
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
Rep. Ed Buttrey (R) - Great Falls. File photo.

The Republican plan to continue Medicaid expansion will result in half of the 96,000 people currently enrolled in the program losing health coverage. That’s according to an analysis released this afternoon by Governor Steve Bullock’s office.

The fiscal note from the governor’s office cites a previously published study from George Washington University to forecast the potential drop in the expansion enrollment.

The Budget Office’s analysis says the Republican plan would cost the state about $2.5 million less over four years than a Democratic bill to keep the Medicaid expansion going more or less at status quo. The Democratic bill does, however, boost state funding for a voluntary program to help Medicaid enrollees find jobs.

When Republican Representative Ed Buttrey, from Great Falls, introduced his bill last week he said he was unsure of what’s its fiscal note would say, but skeptical.

"Fiscal notes are political games."

Fiscal notes are not a nonpartisan review of a legislation’s potential cost, since they come from the governor’s office.

Governor Bullock has criticised the idea of additional requirements, including, in some cases, work requirements, on Medicaid expansion enrollees, which Buttrey’s bill would do.

The fiscal note released Friday afternoon estimates that changes in Medicaid eligibility and other rules in Buttrey’s bill would create administrative costs to the state totaling over $11 million a year.

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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