Montana becomes 30th state to expand Medicaid

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock

The Obama administration has given final approval to Montana’s Medicaid expansion waiver, clearing the state to move ahead and expand coverage to as many as 70,000 Montanans. The plan includes a requirement that beneficiaries pay premiums that amount to 2 percent of their income, and that provision required federal government sign-off.

Gov. Steve Bullock announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ approval of the federal waiver needed for state officials to start enrollment this fall and begin coverage on Jan. 1. […]
Bullock’s original expansion plan stalled in this year’s legislative session and was replaced by a compromise bill sponsored by Sen. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls.

Lawmakers passed that measure, but the state needed a waiver by the federal government because of the changes, such as charging premiums and outsourcing the program’s administration to a third party.

The plan also requires that patients make the

copayments allowed under federal law, though copayments and premium payments combined can’t exceed 5 percent of a family’s household income.

The state has arranged for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana to be the third-party administrator of the program, arguing that it would be more cost-effective with the systems the company has in place. So as of the beginning of next year, this map of the uninsured will be slightly less depressing.

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