Every Montanan benefits from having access to quality, safe and affordable health care. Providing health insurance to low-income Montanans through the expansion of Medicaid is a common-sense solution that protects access to health care in our rural communities. Healthy communities support Main Street businesses and MHA’s mission to make Montana a “Top 10 Healthy State.”
The Montana Hospital Association supports the Montana HELP (Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership) Act. Signed into law by Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Montana) on April 29, 2015, the HELP Act has successfully helped to reduce the rate of uninsured in Montana from approximately 15 percent in 2015 to 7.4 percent in 2016. The HELP Act was authored by Sen. Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls) and received bipartisan support from the 2015 Montana Legislature. It is a Montana-made solution that:
- Provides health insurance coverage to adults earning up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level – including Native Americans, veterans and students;
- Provides career pathways that include job training and job placement services to reduce future reliance on the program;
- Promotes self-management of a healthy lifestyle by ensuring individuals have access to timely and preventive care like cancer screenings, health risk assessments and behavioral counseling; and
- Requires transparency, accountability and reforms to ensure long-term sustainability.
Protecting Access to Rural Health Care
Hospitals provide care to all Montanans, regardless of their health insurance coverage or ability to pay. As a result, uncompensated care is at an all-time high. Hospitals try to absorb as much of these unpaid costs as possible, but in order to maintain quality services a portion of this cost is shifted to private insurers. Continuing to reduce the number of uninsured Montanans will help to ensure the viability of our rural safety-net hospitals and the ability for all Montanans to access quality care, close to home.
According to a report by the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance:
- More than 44,000 Montanans have so far received health insurance coverage through the expansion of Medicaid;
- The rate of uninsured in Montana declined from approximately 15 percent in 2015 to 7.4 percent in 2016; and
- Approximately 957,000 Montanans have health insurance coverage; 76,000 Montanans still do not have coverage.
Supporting Main Street Businesses
Access to health care in rural Montana is critical to ensuring our way of life, and that of our neighbors. Hospitals and other health care providers anchor their communities. In their absence, Main Street Montana would not only suffer an immediate loss of critical health care services, but also a downturn in the economic benefits that come from a highly-skilled and well-paid workforce. Additionally, your employees can’t come to work if they aren’t healthy. A strong health care delivery system is essential to ensuring Montana remains competitive in recruiting and maintaining qualified professionals for in-demand jobs across the state.