Montana Public Radio

health insurance

Montana Lawmakers Push Bills On Health Costs, Transparency

Apr 17, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Congress may be undecided about former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, but Montana lawmakers are pushing through legislation they believe will bring down health care costs and increase price transparency regardless of what happens in Washington.

A half-dozen measures were still alive as the 2017 legislative session enters its final days. They include authorizing a high-risk insurance pool, allowing out-of-state insurers to sell policies in Montana, better informing patients about health care prices and giving tax credits to small companies that offer high-deductible plans to their employees.

Comparing Obamacare And GOP Health Bill

Mar 23, 2017
Health coverage in Montana.
Montana Commissioner of Securities & Insurance

In Montana, more than 47,000 people qualify for tax credits that lower their monthly health insurance premiums. Those tax credits were created by the Affordable Care Act, what some people call Obamacare. Many of those people would see big changes if the Republican healthcare bill in the works in Congress now becomes law.

Bill Could Strip Worker’s Compensation For Failure To Disclose Medical Conditions

Mar 21, 2017
Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers heard a bill today that would add another aspect to worker’s compensation cases. Senate Bill 116 could strip employees of worker’s comp eligibility if they knowingly or willfully failed to disclose a medical condition pertinent to a job in any pre-employment questionnaires.

Hospital monitor.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Healthcare employment in Montana grew by more than 3 percent last year, after years of growth below 1 percent. That's according to the new annual report from the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

2016 was the first full year of Medicaid expansion in Montana under the Affordable Care Act, which helped the state's uninsured rate drop by nearly two-thirds.

Montana Lawmakers Look For Ways To Address High Healthcare Costs

Jan 13, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / MTPR

When travelers are looking for a cheaper way to get to their destination, they might try different websites to compare prices. Republican Senator Cary Smith says the same should be true for health care.

Senate Bill 96 would provide incentive for both the patients and their insurers to shop around for their treatment and procedures. The savings would be split between the patient and the insurance company.

As Congress debates repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration is making a push to get as many people as possible to shop for health insurance via healthcare.gov.

Tester: Obamacare Repeal Has 'Real World Impacts'

Jan 8, 2017
Senator Jon Tester
Eric Whitney

Senator Jon Tester is asking for feedback on what would happen if Congress and the Trump administration repeal the Affordable Care Act as they’ve been promising.

On Friday and Saturday he visited Libby, Kalispell, and Missoula to meet with health care providers and leaders at hospitals, clinics and public health departments.

Montana's uninsured rate before and after Medicaid expansion.
Montana Budget and Policy Center

If Congress and the Trump administration repeal the Affordable Care Act, 142,000 Montanans could potentially lose their health insurance coverage.

That’s according to a new report from the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

More than 60,000 Montanans now have health insurance because of the HELP Act, the Medicaid expansion program narrowly passed by state lawmakers in 2015. The oversight committee in charge of reviewing that program met in Helena on Tuesday to check in on the Medicaid expansion. 

John Goodnow, chair of the oversight committee, says because of the HELP Act, a lot of uninsured Montanans now have coverage: 

Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s Medicaid expansion program 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.

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