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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Public Comment On Medicaid Expansion Community Service Requirements Closes

Timeline for HELP Program/Medicaid Expansion Waiver
Montana DPHHS
Timeline for HELP Program/Medicaid Expansion Waiver

Friday was the deadline for public input on the Montana health department’s draft proposal to add work and community service requirements to the state’s health coverage program for low income adults.

At the end of the month, Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) plans to send the federal government the new outline of the state’s Medicaid expansion program, which covers around 90,000 people.

The change is required by House Bill 658, legislation fought over during the 2019 legislative session that continued the controversial health program past a looming expiration in addition to making policy changes within it.

The most high-profile change is a requirement for certain Medicaid recipients to work or do community engagement activities, such as vocational education, community services or other activities outlined in the new law for 80 hours per month.

DPHHS estimates that nearly 26,000 people on the program will have to report their compliance with the requirements and between 4 to 12 percent of those people will lose coverage.

The policy changes also include premium cost increases for people who stay on the program longer than two years and the elimination of copays.

The federal government, which will pay 90 percent of Medicaid expansion costs after 2020, must sign off on Montana’s plan.

Pending that approval, the new requirements for some Medicaid recipients will go into effect January 1.

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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