NewsMontana Politics


Senate panel tables Medicaid-expansion bill — but it’s not dead

Posted at 12:59 PM, Apr 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-05 15:26:34-04

HELENA — Republicans on a Senate committee voted Friday morning to table the bill that would continue Montana’s $700 million-a-year Medicaid expansion coverage for low-income adults — but the measure isn’t dead.

Sen. Jason Small, R-Busby, who made the motion to table House Bill 658, said he plans to ask the full Senate to bring the bill to the floor for further action.

Small, a supporter of HB658, said tabling the bill immediately in the Senate Public Health Committee also prevents any unwanted amendments from being attached to the bill.

HB658, sponsored by Rep. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, continues Medicaid expansion past a June 30 expiration date. It also adds new eligibility requirements for some participants in the program, such as performing 80 hours a month of “community engagement,” which could be a job, volunteer work, or drug-treatment program.

Medicaid expansion currently provides health coverage to about 95,000 low-income adults in Montana. The federal government pay 90 percent of the program’s costs, but the program must be authorized by the state Legislature.

The Montana House approved tHB658l last week and the Senate committee held its first hearing on the measure Friday morning.

Scores of supporters showed up to testify for HB658, saying Medicaid expansion had extended health care to thousands of people who couldn’t afford it, improved the health of the state, and added jobs.

Shortly after the hearing completed, the panel prepared to vote on the bill — and Small immediately moved to table it. He and all five other Republicans on the committee voted to table HB658, while all four Democrats voted against the motion.