Montana Public Radio

health insurance

A new report released Tuesday says around 60 percent of Montana businesses last year had at least one worker enrolled in Medicaid expansion. Enrollment in the health care program for low income adults has been on the rise for the last four months.

At a meeting in Bozeman, Barbara Wagner, chief economist of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, said nearly 20 percent of the state’s entire workforce was enrolled in Medicaid at one point or another last year.

Montana has awarded more than $540,000 in grants to health care providers so they can help people find affordable insurance plans.

Hospitals, clinics and tribal nations will use the money to train or hire counselors through June who can guide Montanans through the health care insurance application process, including on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Riverstone Health CEO John Felton said during a news conference Friday that many of the Billings organization’s patients have lost their jobs and health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.


Montana’s health department distributed between $84 million and $163 million in Medicaid and Child Health Insurance Program benefits to people ineligible for those programs, according to an audit presented to lawmakers June 16. State officials emphatically reject several of the audit’s key findings.

Doctors are now cleared to check in with patients over the phone as part of the effort to minimize the number of people in health care facilities. Private health insurance companies and Medicaid are relaxing telemedicine requirements during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials say it could take more than a year to add new "community engagement" requirements to the state’s Medicaid expansion.
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Officials say it could take more than a year to add new "community engagement" requirements to the state’s Medicaid expansion.

Montana is awaiting federal approval for its plan to require some low-income adults to work for health coverage.

People on Medicaid who work rural seasonal jobs in Montana are wondering about the future of their access to health coverage. Montana recently passed a law that, if it gains federal approval and goes into effect as planned in January, would require many Medicaid recipients to prove they work a set number of hours each month.

Average Monthly Premiums for Second-Lowest Cost Silver Plan in Montana 2016-2019.
Data from: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, https://go.cms.gov/2Jp5SkE

Next year, premiums for individual health insurance plans in Montana will go down for the first time since the Affordable Care Act took effect. Open enrollment starts Friday.

The roughly 50,000 Montanans who receive health coverage in the Affordable Care Act marketplace could see their premium bills drop by hundreds or thousands of dollars next year.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Gov. Steve Bullock has vetoed a bill attempting to put new regulations on a obscure and influential player in the prescription drug supply chain. While the policy failed to become law in Montana, other states are considering similar legislation.

Average Monthly Premiums for Second-Lowest Cost Silver Plan in Montana 2016-2019.
Data from: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, https://go.cms.gov/2Jp5SkE

Health insurers say premiums on the individual market could drop between 10 and 20 percent once a new bill is signed into law. The Montana Reinsurance Association Act is expected to be signed by Gov. Steve Bullock later this week.

The bill creates a new pool of money to help health insurers cover the cost of high ticket claims for health care.

Montana Capitol.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The long-contested bill to continue Medicaid expansion with new work and public service requirements for some of the people receiving benefits has cleared the Montana Legislature and is heading to Gov. Steve Bullock’s desk.

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