Medicaid

Two of the three Republican primary candidates for governor met in Helena Tuesday night for a debate focused on jobs and the economy.

Attorney General Tim Fox and State Sen. Albert Olszewski stood in an event hall at Carroll College for just under an hour making their pitch to GOP voters.

People on Medicaid who work rural seasonal jobs in Montana are wondering about the future of their access to health coverage. Montana recently passed a law that, if it gains federal approval and goes into effect as planned in January, would require many Medicaid recipients to prove they work a set number of hours each month.

An activist in Havre is bringing long-simmering criticism about Hutterites to the surface there.

Homeless Man Sleeps In A Doorway
Carl Campbell / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A new report says Montana could save money on Medicaid by providing housing and support services to homeless people.

DPHHS

Editor's note: state Disistrict Judge James Reynolds issued a temporary restraining order on June 13, 2018 ordering the state to pay the Medicaid Reimbursement rate in effect before January 1, 2018.

The Montana Health Care Association and some of its members filed suit today in state District Court in Helena to stop state cuts to their Medicaid reimbursement rate.

A state legislative committee heard protests over proposed cuts to Medicaid Monday.

The cuts Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services is planning are in response to the Legislature cutting its budget by $8.6 million. They would result in lower payments to health care professionals, and end some case-management services.

A new report says that Medicaid expansion has saved Montana more than $30 million in its first 18 months.

"Medicaid expansion continues to be a stunning success for Montana," said Shiela Hogan, director of Montana's Department of Health and Human Services. "There's no denying this."

Montana’s health insurance companies are asking for rate increases for 2018 ranging from 2 percent to 23 percent. Those numbers released today are much lower than the rate increases for last year, some of which topped 50 percent.

The proposed increases are only for the individual and small group markets. Most Montanans get their health coverage elsewhere, either through their jobs or government programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Veterans Administration.

Montana was one of the last states to expand Medicaid, and its Obamacare marketplace is doing pretty well. It has 50,000 customers, decent competition and no places that have come to be called "bare counties" — where no insurers want to sell plans.

Still, the three insurers selling in Montana now say that if GOP plans to cut Medicaid and repeal the individual mandate go through, it will mean higher costs all around.

When Sol Shipotow enrolled in a new Medicare Advantage health plan earlier this year, he expected to keep the doctor who treats his serious eye condition.

"That turned out not to be so," said Shipotow, 83, who lives in Bensalem, Pa.

Shipotow said he had to scramble to get back onto a health plan that he could afford and that his longtime eye specialist would accept. "You have to really understand your policy," he said. "I thought it was the same coverage."

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