Top Five Reasons Montana Should Expand Health Coverage Through Medicaid

Montana has the chance to provide 70,000 people with high-quality health coverage by accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid to those whose incomes are less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.  For a single person, this means earning less than $15,857, and for a family a three, less than $26,951.

Here’s why it’s such a good idea:

1. It will support our economy and help create jobs.

Offering more people health coverage through Medicaid would bring in nearly $6 billion in federal funds to Montana between now and 2021. This will help strengthen our economy, by providing insurance to workers in Montana’s key industries, such as tourism, construction, and ranching. Additionally, expansion will help bring 12,000 jobs to our state annually.

 2. It will benefit Indian Country.

Over half of Montana’s American Indians between the ages of 18-64 lack health coverage. But with expansion, nearly 20,000 American Indians in Montana will be eligible to enroll in Medicaid. Expansion will also provide a much needed economic boost to tribal communities. Additionally, it will help to improve services at Indian Health Services (IHS) facilities by freeing up funds for essential services such as mammograms that had been previously spent on the uninsured.

3. Veterans and their families will have better access to health care.

Montana has the highest percentage of uninsured veterans (17.3 percent) in the country.  Even for those with coverage through Veterans Affairs, Montana VA facilities are few and far between, making it difficult for many veterans to get the care they need. With expansion, approximately 9,500 veterans and their families will gain access to health care.

4. Medicaid is quality health care.

Medicaid is an effective and efficient program. Not only does it improve access to health care and the health of those who use it, it also delivers high-quality insurance with significantly lower administrative costs than private insurance.

5. It will improve the lives and health of tens of thousands of Montanans.

Most importantly, expanding Medicaid would improve the lives and the health of 70,000 Montanans, helping to build healthy communities and a stronger state. It’s time for Montana to act.

Welcome to “Charted Territory”

MT road sign

Welcome to Charted Territory, the new blog from the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

Montana is at a crossroads. We face many challenges – reducing poverty, growing our economy, creating jobs, and ensuring access to health care. There are so many possible directions we could turn that sometimes it feels like we are lost in uncharted territory.

We aim to give Montanans a map to these crucial issues, using accurate information and clear, non-partisan analysis to provide timely commentary. Here, you will find straightforward talk about events and decisions that impact the lives of Montanans, and our nation as a whole. We’ll discuss trends in the Montana economy, the role that state and local taxes play in building strong communities and a vibrant economy, the difference that safety net programs make in helping families meet basic needs and giving them opportunities to move up the economic ladder, and much more. Of course, we’ll throw in a few charts along the way.

Any journey is more pleasant with companions, and we want you to share your thoughts and comments with us along the way. Check back often. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter, and get regular updates through e-mail.

We hope you will enjoy the journey with us as we venture into Charted Territory.

State Funding for Pre-K

“State Funding for Pre-K,” KULR8, December 13, 2013.

“Children are one of Montana’s best investments, and universal pre-school would be an excellent way to not only improve the lives of children in our state, but to secure a strong future for our state,” said Montana Budget and Policy Center Analyst, Jackie Semmens.

Report Shows State-Funded Preschool Helps Economy

“Report Shows State-Funded Preschool Helps Economy,” ABC FOX Montana, December 11, 2013.

A new report shows if all children went to preschool, children would not only get a head start on their education, but it would save the state money.

The study, released on Wednesday by the Montana Budget and Policy Center, a non-profit research institute, shows Montana is one of only ten states with no state-funded preschool system.

With all of the activities offered at Discovery Preschool in Missoula, preschoolers have something to look forward every day.

Press Release: Pre-Kindergarten for all Montana Kids would Benefit State while Cutting Costs

December 11, 2013

Pre-kindergarten for every child in Montana would make a difference for thousands of children while saving the state money, according to a new report by the Montana Budget and Policy Center, a non-partisan policy research institute, released today.

Montana is one of only ten states that does not offer any form of state-funded pre-k. Currently, one in five Montana children live in poverty and three-fifths of Montana preschool aged children do not attend pre-k. Universal pre-k is a proven and cost-effective way to make sure children don’t fall behind their peers and require more expensive assistance later in life.

Jackie Semmens, a policy analyst at Montana Budget and Policy Center, said “Montana’s children are a smart investment. State funded pre-k would not only improve the lives of children, but help to build a thriving state. Pre-k could save Montana millions. Montana should forge ahead with this critical investment in our children.”

Read the full press release here.