With Waiver, Montana Becomes 30th State to Expand Medicaid
“Big Sky Country” Shows its Big Heart and Extends Health Care and Peace of Mind to 70,000 Low-Income Residents
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today approved waivers requested by Montana Governor Steve Bullock as part of the states proposed Medicaid expansion. Qualified applicants can begin enrolling immediately for coverage that will begin Jan. 1, 2016. This makes Montana the 30th state, plus the District of Columbia, to extend Medicaid coverage to residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($27,720 for a family of three). An estimated 70,000 Montanans will be eligible, including a majority who hold jobs in low-wage occupations that don’t offer affordable health insurance, according to a Families USA study. The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA:
“Gov. Steve Bullock, the state legislature and the people of Montana should be congratulated for extending health insurance to about 70,000 of their friends and neighbors. They have shown Montana is not is not just ‘Big Sky Country,’ but ‘Big Heart Country’ as well.
“Starting immediately, thousands of hard-working Montanans who now lack access to affordable health care, will be able to sign up for Medicaid coverage and begin their new year with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that a sudden accident or illness won’t wipe out everything they’ve dreamed and saved for.
“I do worry, however, that the premiums CMS approved as part of the waiver request will unduly burden the very-low income people Medicaid is designed to serve. We don’t want premiums to become part of the standard Medicaid expansions.
“That said, this approval is an opportunity for thousands of Montanans to get the health coverage – many for the very first time.”