Budget and Policy Center reports county benefits from Medicaid expansion

Sidney Herald

This week, the Montana Budget and Policy Center (MBPC) revealed county and regional data highlighting the critical role Medicaid expansion has played in Montana. 

“Medicaid expansion represents a significant economic driver in the Eastern region of the state, providing health care coverage to over 6,807 Montanans in the area and bringing in over $1 billion in federal funds to the state. When individuals gain health coverage, they can access preventative care and other health services they need, experience improved health outcomes, and can better afford basic necessities,” said Heather O’Loughlin, co-director of the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

In 2015, Montana passed the bipartisan HELP Act providing access to Medicaid for adults living on incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (for a single individual with annual income below $16,750). Since 2015, more than 96,000 Montanans have gained access to health coverage, and Montana has experienced state savings and significant economic impact in local communities.

As of September, 652 Richland county residents are enrolled in Medicaid expansion. Of those:

• 90.49 percent are living below the poverty line;

• 26.53 percent are over the age of 50; and

• 4.14 percent are American Indian.

In the Eastern region of Montana (Carter, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, McCone, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sheridan, Valley, and Wibaux counties), 6,807 have enrolled.

Medicaid expansion has been beneficial by creating jobs and boosting income and economic growth. In 2018, Medicaid expansion is projected to create 247 new jobs and bring in $13 million in personal income in the Eastern region alone.

“Medicaid expansion has a significant economic impact to our state. It helps our rural hospitals keep their doors open and even expand services. Individuals get care earlier which keeps them healthier and brings down health care costs for all of us,” said O’Loughlin. “Expansion has also brought in new jobs and infused more than $500 million into Montana’s economy.”

The report also highlights statewide impact including:

• More than 96,000 Montanans enrolled

• 300,000 preventative services provided

• $58 million savings to the state general fund

• $1.3 billion in federal dollars injected into the state

The Montana Budget and Policy Center is a nonprofit organization providing in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. To learn more about MBPC, visit www.montanabudget.org.