New Hampshire & Montana: Great Medicaid Expansion News!

Regular readers may have noticed that I've been posting fairly lightly of late. Now that open enrollment is over and we're deep in the thick of primary season, I'm trying to catch up with the massive backlog which has built up in my day job.

However, there's still a lot of stuff going on; today, for instance, brought some very positive Medicaid expansion news out of two states:

New Hampshire House passes Medicaid reauthorization

The New Hampshire House on Wednesday approved legislation that would keep 48,000 people on their insurance plans by continuing the state's expanded Medicaid program beyond the end of the year.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, includes work requirements for recipients and asks insurance companies and hospitals to cover the state's share of the program's costs.

Hours of debate on the measure focused on whether to include a provision that would allow the law to survive even if the federal government rejects the work requirements. House Speaker Shawn Jasper broke a 181-181 tie to approve an amendment containing that provision, and the bill later passed 216-145, with 68 Republicans joining all 148 Democrats in voting yes.

Look at that number at the end. This basically underscores the point that Jeffrey Young made over at the Huffington Post the other day: It was a lot easier for the GOP to fight against the ACA before it had merged with the general economy as a whole (or at least to pretend-vote to repeal it when they knew there was zero chance of repeal actually going through, in the case of Congress). It's a lot harder to do so now in states which have had provisions like ACA Medicaid expansion in place for a couple of years.

Meanwhile, let's check in on Montana, which didn't get around to expanding Medicaid until last fall:

Medicaid expansion sign-ups surging past expectations

The number of low-income Montanans signing up for expanded Medicaid health coverage is surging past initial predictions, a legislative report shows.

The report says as of this month, 36,320 people have signed up for the new government-funded coverage – already more than the Bullock administration estimated would sign up through mid-2017.

Montanans earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – about $16,400 a year, for a single person – are eligible for the expanded Medicaid coverage.

...Covering more people who need health care will create economic benefits for the state, O’Laughlin said, such as preventing more serious mental illness, because people can get entry-level care, and reducing the amount of “uncompensated” health care.

...The Bullock administration, which supported Medicaid expansion, predicted last year that 23,000 to 26,000 people would sign up through June of this year and that by June 2017, the sign-ups would reach 30,000 to 33,000 people.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of last fall Montana had roughly 126,000 uninsured residents (roughly 12.3% of the population). Assuming that just about all 36,000 of these Medicaid expansion enrollees were previously uncovered, that means that they've managed to reduce their uninsured rate by 28% in just the past few months.