What Medicaid Expansion Means in Montana

The promise of saving money can sound like yet another empty sales pitch. But one decision by our state government could make a positive difference for your pocketbook.
Montana could save money by expanding Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low income families, children and the elderly. Right now, 40% of all Medicaid dollars go for nursing-home care. That’s a huge percentage of the program helping care for Montana seniors.

An estimated 60,000 Montanans qualify for Medicaid under the expanded program. Likely more than 12,000 of them live in rural Montana, where a higher percentage of residents are self-employed entrepreneurs or working for small businesses who don’t offer health insurance. Currently, when they get sick or have an accident they cannot afford, people with insurance end up paying in the form of higher premiums. Having more people insured saves everyone money.

Expanding Medicaid makes good fiscal sense. It returns hundreds of millions of dollars to Montana because for the first several years, the expansion would be entirely paid for by the federal government. After that, Montana would never pay for more than 10% of the expansion. These tax dollars will create healthcare jobs and economic activity here in Montana. Medicaid expansion also saves money because people with coverage are healthier, so everyone’s costs go down.

Montana cannot afford to miss this opportunity if we are serious about addressing the problems in our healthcare system and creating a brighter financial future, particularly in and around our rural communities.

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