Montana: ACA Medicaid expansion up 18% since a year ago

As long as I'm focusing on Medicaid expansion news (and since I write about Montana pretty rarely), here's a mildly interesting tidbit:

Last June I noted that ACA Medicaid expansion in Montana had increased dramatically in a year and a half, from 47,000 in early 2016 to over 77,000 enrollees as of May 2017.

According to this article, they're now up to 91,000:

HELENA — There are 91,563 Montanans participating in the Medicaid expansion HELP act as of Jan. 15, generating nearly $40 million in savings in Medicaid benefits, a state panel was told Thursday.

Members of the Legislature’s Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee reviewed a report on Medicaid expansion. The committee took no immediate action after hearing the report.

Erica Johnston, operations services branch manager with the Department of Public Health and Human Services, said the program has provided $802 million in health care services to residents. She said $40 million in Medicaid benefits had been saved.

Enrollees must pay 2 percent of their monthly income in premiums and the state had collected $6.7 million in premiums, officials said.

I'm not thrilled about that, but as far as "conservatizing" Medicaid goes, that isn't too bad. For a single adult earning 138% FPL (the maximum covered under the ACA), that'd be around $28/month out of $1,387 in monthly income.

The state in 2015 created what officials called a “uniquely Montana solution” to federal Medicaid expansion with the Montana Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership Act (HELP), which requires enrollees to pay premiums and copays for services.

Recipients participate in a workplace program to help them get better-paying jobs. The bill would sunset in 2019, allowing the Legislature to renew it if it’s working, officials said.

Oh, yeah...and as the $40 million bit notes above, the program is paying for itself:

Montana’s Medicaid expansion that widened who can get health coverage is saving the state money. And while Montana’s cost could outpace its spending starting next year, a new report says the program’s boost to the economy will offset the difference and then some.

The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research released the independent analysis today. According to the analysis, even if people signing up for the program plateaus, the expansion will spit out $350 million to $400 million of new spending in Montana’s economy each year.

The Montana Healthcare Foundation and the Headwaters Foundation commissioned the analysis.