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.
Joe Parsetich is a long-time veterans' advocate in Great Falls.
"For veterans trying to get healthcare in Montana, to say that it's a difficult or an arduous task would be an understatement," Parsetich said.
Not all veterans are eligible for V.A. healthcare, and even if they are, it can be hard to get. So Parsetich is a hundred percent behind the Bullock administration's push to let veterans know that under Montana's newly-expanded Medicaid program, they may now be able to get health coverage they couldn't get before.
In fact, veterans, or anyone else meeting the Medicaid income thresholds, have been able to sign up for expanded Medicaid since January. Parsetich says he doesn't think a lot of veterans organizations know that.
"It's probably one of the best kept secrets. I just heard about it for the first time a few days ago," Parsetich said.
Bullock administration officials say there are an estimated 9,000 uninsured veterans in Montana. If they have incomes below $16,000 a year, or $33,000 for a family of four, they, like all other Montanans, probably qualify for Medicaid health coverage.
"There's unfortunately a higher number of low-income veterans than people realize, and I think this is going to open up the floodgates for them, and I think it's great," Parsetich said.
Governor Bullock said that state health department staff will be attending homeless veteran outreach events in the fall to help get more signed up for Medicaid under the Montana HELP act.