Montana Public Radio

health insurance

U.S. Capitol
flickr user Tim Evanson (CC-BY-SA-2)

Montana’s senators split on yesterday’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the first time the Senate has voted to repeal the law since it passed five years ago. The House has voted to repeal it dozens of times, and is expected to confirm the Senate vote soon. The bill faces certain veto by President Obama, a veto Republicans don’t have the votes to override.

Medicaid expansion is coming to Montana but some lawmakers are still debating it.

At a hearing of the oversight committee that's keeping tabs on the state’s effort to ramp-up its new health coverage, Bozeman Republican Tom Burnett — a House member who voted against the plan — stood up to say that state officials weren’t living up to the legislature’s goals.

After an initial rush, the rate of people signing up for the state's Medicaid expansion program has slowed as health care officials prepare for next month's rollout.

Christopher Ebdon (CC-BY-NC-2)

In a big, rural state like Montana, medical care is often far away. And because most hospitals here are small, people who experience serious trauma or need specialty care often have to fly to get it. The cost of that service is really expensive, and sometimes it isn't covered by health insurance.

Hospital monitor.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

State health officials say they’re surprised at the number of Montanans who are signing up for expanded Medicaid. Jessica Rhoades with the Department of Public Health and Human Services says more than 5,500 people have signed up in a little more than a week since enrollment began.

Steve Jess

Monday, Montana officially became the 30th state in the nation to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare. The announcement at the state capitol was part news conference, and part pep rally, as Governor Steve Bullock thanked a crowd of supporters for everything they had to endure, including months of legislative maneuvering.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell issued this statement earlier today, we'll have more on what it means for Montana in tonight's Montana News at 5:44 p.m., and throughout All Things Considered tonight.

Christopher Ebdon (CC-BY-NC-2)

Montana’s Insurance Commissioner is warning people to be careful when buying policies that cover air ambulance services.

Many Montana hospitals have air ambulance services that are covered by health insurance. When they don’t, and a patient needs it, a private air ambulance company gets involved. Deputy State Auditor Andrew Posewitz says that can be expensive if the company is out of the patient’s network.

Eric Whitney

Last week Montana’s Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen approved big price increases for some health insurance plans in the state – increases from 5 percent to more than 30 percent higher than last year.

To find out who exactly those rate increases do and don’t apply to, and why the rate increases are so big, we talked to Commissioner Lindeen’s General Counsel Christina Goe.

The Director of Montana’s Medicaid program expects the state to offer expanded Medicaid coverage at the start of the New Year. Mary Dalton told state lawmakers Monday morning that her staff is working at "breakneck speed" to get all the paperwork filed.

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