Medicaid expansion enrollment in MT passes 91K - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Medicaid expansion enrollment in MT passes 91K

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Medicaid enrollee Amanda Childers of Thompson Falls Medicaid enrollee Amanda Childers of Thompson Falls

Montana’s expanded Medicaid program, enacted in 2016 to provide government-funded health coverage for low-income adults, is now covering more than 91,500 people, state heath officials said Thursday.

Speaking before a legislative committee, state officials said as of last Monday, expansion enrollment had grown to 91,563 members – more than twice the original estimate made three years ago.

The federal government pays for about 95 percent of program, which is expected to bring about $1.25 billion into the state during the two-year budget period that began last July.

Scott Eychner, head of the state Workforce Services Division, also told the Children, Families Health and Human Services Interim Committee that his agency had contacted more than 21,000 people on the program about available job-training or assistance programs.

The job-training is part of the expansion law passed by the 2015 Legislature, meant to help those covered by program find possible employment.

Amanda Childers, a single mother from Thompson Falls, told the panel the program had helped train her to become a certified nursing assistant, and that she’s able to go to school in Missoula, work and have health coverage for herself and her two children.

“The help-link program has helped me to get on my feet,” she said. “It’s opened doors to go down a career path, in the medical field, to better support myself and my kids. And without that program, I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today.”

Expanded Medicaid provides health coverage for adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,600 for a single person or $28,200 for a family of three.

However, data from the state said nearly three-fourths of those covered by the program earn less than 50 percent of the poverty level – just $6,000 for a single person.

About 16 percent of those covered are Native Americans and 54 percent are women.

The program now covers about 9 percent of the state’s entire population. It’s up for renewal at the 2019 Legislature. Federal support for the program will gradually decline to 90 percent by 2020.

About Mike Dennison

MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.
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