Position Announcement: Outreach and Communications Coordinator

Organizational and Position Background

The Montana Budget and Policy Center (MBPC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with the mission to advance responsible tax, budget, and economic policies through credible research and analysis in order to promote opportunity and fairness for all Montanans.

MBPC is seeking an Outreach and Communications Coordinator to organize efforts regarding a number of policy priorities including advocating for a fair tax structure and a responsible state budget that provides adequate revenue to invest in our communities and families. Reporting to the Co-Director of Public Affairs, this position will work collaboratively with the MBPC staff and coalition partners to develop and implement communication and outreach strategies to broaden the impact of MBPC’s initiatives.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Provide support for a statewide coalition focused on tax fairness and ensuring adequate revenue for a strong state budget
  • Assist in drafting of advocacy, educational, outreach, and lobbying materials
  • Support activities related to the legislative session, including, but not limited to: research and monitoring bills and committees, community education, rallies, and action alerts
  • Supporting the Co-Director in the planning and execution of organizational communications and outreach strategies
  • Assist with the organization’s web presence, including regular email communication, website, social media platforms, in a manner consistent with MBPC’s messaging
  • Synthesize technical information into relatable, simplified materials (e.g. talking points, action alerts, and policy updates)
  • Educate coalition participants and potential allies through a variety of communication channels to convey key information about the state’s budget, the importance of raising revenues fairly, and the coalition’s action agenda.
  • Initiate, build relationships, and recruit new coalition members from with members of the low-income, faith-based, business, and other relevant communities.

Required Experience and Education

  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, including experience in public speaking and development of outreach materials
  • Sense of humor
  • Strong ability to work independently as well as in a collaborative environment
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in communications, public policy, or a related field (advanced degree preferred)
  • Capacity to build and maintain relationships with a wide range of groups and individuals
  • Ability to prioritize, multi-task, and work at a high capacity in order to meet deadlines
  • Strong abilities in Microsoft Office Suite, outreach database systems, and Internet research tools
  • Experience in the state legislative process is preferred
  • Knowledge of data analysis or research capabilities is preferred
  • Knowledge of graphic design and web page tools (Illustrator, InDesign, WordPress, or other programs) is preferred

Position Details

The ideal candidate will work full time and be based in Helena. However, a truly outstanding candidate who is based elsewhere in Montana will be considered.

Montana Budget and Policy Center provides competitive salary and benefit packages within the non-profit sector, including health, retirement, and leave benefits. Applicants are encouraged to provide expected salary range.

To Apply:

To apply, submit a cover letter and resume by email (preferred) or mail to:

tjensen@montanabudget.org

-or-

Montana Budget and Policy Center

101 N. Last Chance Gulch, #220

Helena, MT 59601

The position is open until filled. Initial application review will include all applications received by August 10.

MBPC is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, religious or political affiliation, disability, and any other classification considered discriminatory under applicable law.

Montana experiences significant positive impacts of Medicaid expansion

Today, the HELP Oversight Committee will meet for its quarterly meeting to review and discuss the implementation of Medicaid expansion in Montana. We’ll get an update on how many people have enrolled, the corresponding reduction in the uninsured rate, and the amount of federal dollars that have flowed into Montana communities for Medicaid provider payments to access affordable health care.

These numbers are impressive – well above initial projections. Tens of thousands of Montanans now have greater access to life-saving services, low or no-cost preventative care, and other health services. We will also hear from hospitals, providers, and others that are seeing the impact of improved access to health insurance.

It will be another year or two before we fully understand the scope of the economic benefits of Medicaid expansion here in Montana, but we can see from other states that the impacts are significant and far reaching. Dozens of studies have been conducted on the effects of expanding coverage, and the Kaiser Family Foundation has compiled a nice summary of that research. Here’s what they’ve found:

States that have expanded Medicaid have seen sharp declines in the number of uninsured adults. From 2012 to 2016, states that expanded Medicaid have experienced nearly 50 percent decline in the uninsured rate for non-elderly adults. This compares with a decline of non-expansion states of about 33 percent. (Because expansion states started at a lower rate, this difference in the decline really understates the effects of expansion, since non-expansion states simply had further room to drop.) States that expanded Medicaid through the federal waiver process, such as Arkansas, are seeing similar increases in coverage.

Individuals are better accessing health services. Some studies have shown that individuals are more likely to access care in expansion states, including finding a personal physician and being able to access needed medication. Additionally, expansion also appears to be having an impact on affordability of care: several studies have found that low-income families report less unmet health care needs because of financial reasons.

More work can be done to provide health insurance education to improve the kinds of services that families are accessing. The great news coming from expansion states is that low-incomes families are utilizing certain types of preventative care more, including dental visits, breast exams, and mammograms. And patients with chronic health conditions are better accessing regular care. However, some states have also seen increases in the use of hospital visits, thus emphasizing that enrollment and health insurance education go hand-in-hand.

Impact on health outcomes continues to be studied. More time is really needed to determine how Medicaid expansion impacts health outcomes; however, initial studies have shown at least some positive impact. For example, as the Kaiser report notes, a study of childless adults living below the poverty line showed that these individuals accessed greater health services resulting in “modest improvements in self-rated health and decreases in the number of work days missed due to poor health.” Similar results were found in a study of individuals who were homeless and accessing life-changing surgeries or treatment otherwise unavailable without insurance.

Economic benefits exceed expectations. States that have expanded Medicaid are experiencing considerable budgetary and economic benefits. The injection of billions of federal dollars into local economies has represented significant economic growth for these states, including growth in states’ gross domestic product (GDP), increased general fund revenue, and the creation of good paying jobs. Several state-specific studies show that these economic benefits will continue, even factoring in the required state match in the later years.

Pow Wows Bring Culture and Economic Bursts to Communities

American Indian pow wows are many things. They are reflections of both traditional and contemporary tribal cultures. They are spectacular displays of athleticism, craftsmanship, and a distinctive style of music and singing abilities. But they are also events that spark short-term economic growth for local and neighboring communities. This blog reports on the economic impacts of three diverse pow wows in our state: the Arlee Celebration, located on the Flathead Reservation; MSU-Bozeman’s large off-reservation pow wow; and Poplar Indian Days, located on the remote Fort Peck Reservation.

While several factors play into economic impact, pow wows are often categorized as cultural tourism for the fact that they bring in numerous out-of-towners—spectators, dancers, drummers, and oftentimes hand game contestants—all of whom leave their money in the local economy. Two key factors that play into the level of attendance (and corresponding economic impact) are location and whether or not the pow wow is a contest pow wow. Some pow wows are small social gatherings and celebrations. But many, including a majority of the larger ones, are contests, meaning they feature highly competitive dance and drumming competitions where winners are awarded cash prizes. In these cases, payout amounts and the notoriety of head staff and host drum can all affect turnout and therefore economic impact.

The Arlee Celebration is now in its 118th year and, according to Pow Wow Committee Chairman Willie Stevens, brings in approximately 5,000-6,000 spectators, 2,000-3,000 campers in about 500 camps, 500 dancers, 240 drummers, 300-600 hand game contestants, 20 food stand vendors, 20 arts and crafts venders, and 10 non-profit information booths. Stevens reports that this influx of people benefits “all local businesses from grocery stores to gas station to restaurants and any tourist shops and casinos.” This economic boost impacts not only the Flathead Reservation’s Jocko and Mission valleys, but also the greater western Montana region, including Missoula, as food vendors and many of the campers get their supplies and other items there.

The Arlee pow wow is unique in terms of its economic impact on multiple communities. While the impact of MSU-Bozeman’s pow wow is largely confined to the city of Bozeman, it is still notable. Richard White, pow wow advisor and director of American Indian/Alaska Native Student Success at MSU-Bozeman, reports that their free-admission/registration pow wow attracts between 2,500-4,000 spectators, 200-300 dancers, 200-250 drummers, 45-60 vendors, many of whom utilize local services like hotels, restaurants, gas stations. They also take advantage of local attractions and the shopping available in one of the few urban centers in Montana.

Smaller pow wows held at more remote locations like Poplar Indian Days on Fort Peck have a smaller overall impact but still work to spark economic growth. Greg and Mary Plante and Raymond “Abby” Ogle, who work to plan the pow wow, estimate that it brings into Poplar about 2,000-3,000 spectators, half of whom are reservation residents. They also estimate that it draws between 120-150 drummers, 200-350 dancers, and 12-15 vendors. They believe that these additional consumers positively impact the economic climate of the tiny town of Poplar, which usually boasts a population count of 810 residents.

pow wow pic

2015 Kyi-Yo Grand Entry. Photo courtesy of UM Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association.

While pow wows are primarily about bringing people together to celebrate tribal culture, family and friends, they also have an economic impact by creating varying degrees of economic growth across our state. Every reservation hosts one or more pow wows, as do many of our urban centers with sizeable Native populations. All pow wows are open to the general public and a majority of them do not charge admission. Pow wows run throughout the summer months and are a great way to see our state. They’re also an opportunity to support local businesses, including those that are Indian owned. To find a list of Indian owned businesses, check out the Montana Indian Business Alliance’s website.

MBPC encourages you to check out a pow wow near you. If you are new to pow wows, check out “Your Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Pow Wows.” It is a great tool to learning about pow wows in Montana.

Calendar of Montana Pow Wows

  • MSU-Bozeman American Indian Council Pow Wow: March 25-26, 2016, Bozeman
  • MSU-Billings Pow Wow: April 8, 2016, Billings
  • UM Kyi-Yo Pow Wow: April 22-23, 2016, Missoula
  • 118th Arlee Celebration: June 29-July 4, 2016, Arlee
  • Northern Cheyenne 4th of July Chiefs Pow Wow: June 30-July 4, 2016, Lame Deer
  • North American Indian Days: July 7-10, 2016, Browning
  • Standing Arrow Pow Wow: July 14-17, 2016, Elmo
  • Milk River Indian Days: July 29-31, 2016, Fort Belknap Agency
  • Annual Rocky Boy’s Celebration: August 5-7, 2016, Box Elder
  • Hays Pow Wow: August 10-15, 2016, Hays
  • Crow Fair and Rodeo: August 17-22, 2016, Crow Agency
  • Poplar Indian Days: September 2-4, 2016, Poplar
  • North American Indian Alliance Pow Wow: September 9-10, 2016, Butte
  • Last Chance Community Pow Wow: September 30-October 2, 2016, Helena

Happy Mother’s Day: 18 paid leave victories give moms the gift of time

Sunday is Mother’s Day! Truly, time is one of the best gifts for moms. Working moms want (and need) time to care for themselves and their loved ones and to be able to earn a paycheck. Unfortunately, many working Americans do not have access to paid leave, putting their and their families’ health and financial security at risk.

But momentum for paid leave is growing. This past year, we saw 18 victories throughout the country, providing families (and moms) more time through paid family leave and paid sick days.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 9.54.18 AM

 Family Leave Victories

Shifting work and family patterns mean that most parents must work in order to put food on the table. In Montana, 48 percent of the workforce is made up of women, 70 percent of children have both parents in the workforce, and many women are either co-breadwinners or are fully supporting their families. Yet, women are still considered primary caregivers and often have to reduce their work schedules – or leave work entirely – to care for seriously ill loved ones. When this happens, women can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes, which takes a toll on their ability to provide for their families and contribute to their local businesses and communities.

The United States lags behind every industrialized economy in providing a national paid leave program. However, over the past decade, several states – California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island – have created statewide paid family leave programs to help workers balance home and care demands. Recently, victories in New York, California, and Montana guarantee workers a better balance.

New York – In early April, New York became the fourth state to enact a statewide family leave insurance program, guaranteeing workers a portion of their weekly wages when they have a baby or need time off to care for a seriously ill family member. Workers can access benefits starting January 2018.

Californialawmakers expanded upon the state’s existing paid family leave program and now provide low-wage workers 70 percent of their weekly wages during leave. This will encourage lower-wage workers to use the program when they need it and will ensure they remain financially secure during leave.

San FranciscoBecame the first city in the country to require employers to provide fully paid parental leave. Starting in January 2017, employers with more than 50 workers located San Francisco will make up the difference between the state’s plan so that employees will receive 100 percent of their weekly earnings during parental leave.

Missoula – In March, Missoula County Board of Commissioners adopted a paid parental leave policy. Starting July 1st, county employees will have access to six weeks of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a new child.

Sick Days Victories

Similar to family leave, access to paid sick days allows workers the time to recover from a routine illness and care for sick children or family members while receiving their wages.

Over the past year, 2 states (Vermont and Oregon), 11 cities, and 1 county have enacted paid sick days laws, guaranteeing over 715,000 workers the right to earn a set number of sick days annually. Over the past decade, sick days victories in 32 locations have provided more than 10 million workers access to paid sick leave.

Moms work hard, whether it is in the home, the workforce, or both. They deserve access to workplace policies that provide them adequate time off to attend to their needs and their families’ needs without risking their economic security. There’s growing support for paid leave policies throughout the country. The staff at MBPC is excited to work with organizations and families across the state to find Montana solutions to better support workers and their families.

 

GUEST BLOG: A Brighter Future Because of Tribal College

Today, the Montana Budget and Policy Center will hear from one Montanan and her story what tribal college means to her.

The tribal college on my reservation has impacted my life more than any other organization, which is ironic because I never planned on attending college. I grew up in St. Ignatius, just 20 miles south of Salish Kootenai College (SKC).   During my senior year of high school I transferred to Two Eagle River School, our tribal school that literally borders SKC, and completed early. I was eager to get out on my own and experience life outside the reservation. But as many of us discover, life outside the rez isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I worked a couple of jobs but didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Luckily, my older sister enrolled me at SKC and told me to come home.  

Jody Perez photo

During my first year at SKC I had the opportunity to develop several basic academic and organizational skills, but I also learned what it meant to be a part of the SKC family. I got engaged to the student body president and we got married on campus in the Michel Building. Joe McDonald, the college president, emceed our wedding. Many of our guests were staff and faculty and many others were connected to the college in some way. We even lived on campus because my husband was the site manager for student housing. I felt support and love from the SKC family, which I was now a part of.

The next year I switched degree programs twice and we welcomed our first baby. I held a part-time job at the local travel agency and took classes that interested me, quickly discovering that I enjoyed and excelled in accounting. These classes helped me obtain a full-time job in the finance department at Mission Valley Power. Shortly thereafter, I completed my associate’s degree in general studies. Little did I know that this degree would open future job opportunities that would play a big role in changing our lives.

After the birth of our second child, I decided to put work and school on pause to focus on our family, which soon grew to four children. I stayed home with them for seven years, all the while living in student housing. My husband continued to work for the college and was also the women’s basketball coach. Living on campus and attending games and other events enabled me to remain active in the SKC family. My love and appreciation for the college continued to grow.

When I was ready to return to the workforce, my associate’s degree and the work experience I acquired because of my SKC classes helped me secure the payroll manager position for our tribe. The additional income made it possible for us to purchase our first home, a dream I wasn’t sure we would ever be able to realize. We moved out of student housing but were still very involved in the SKC family. In 2012, I applied for an open seat on the SKC Board of Directors. I am honored to be serving my second term and am currently the vice chair.

I strive to ensure that students find the same support and love that I did. I am forever indebted to SKC for lifting me up, leading me down a good path, strengthening my cultural knowledge, and always believing in me.

Presently, I am working full-time for our tribal housing authority. My position has afforded me the opportunity to finish what I started fifteen years ago. I have been attending SKC full-time for the past year and will be receiving my associate’s degree in business next month. I will continue at SKC until I earn my bachelor’s in business management. I will never stop being involved in and supporting tribal colleges because I know that they enable people like me to increase our overall quality of life by enabling us to access a broad-based education that allows us to obtain better jobs, helping to end cycles of poverty and dysfunction. They allow us to develop strong support networks that cultivate self-esteem and self-efficacy. Ultimately, they are a powerful and effective way for people to create a brighter future for themselves, their families, and our communities.

 

-Jody Perez is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. She is a past and current student at SKC and also serves as the Vice Chair on the SKC Board of Directors.

Tribal Colleges: A Great Option for New High School Graduates

As we near graduation next month, many high school seniors and other non-traditional students are finalizing their fall college plans. This post highlights an often overlooked option for post-secondary study: tribal colleges, which play a critical role in educating and training workforces across our state and which provide a range of educational opportunities, from adult basic education and certificates to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.

The tribal colleges located in the state of Montana play a critical role within the broader higher education system in the state. Out of the 32 fully accredited tribal colleges in the U.S., seven of them are located in Montana — one on each reservation, serving more than 5,000 students. Perhaps surprisingly, non-Indian students make up between 10-30 percent of the student body at tribal colleges in Montana. However, the colleges are only eligible for federal funding tied to the number of Indian students they serve. The state of Montana has recognized the critical role that tribal colleges play and provides a state investment tied to the number of non-Indian students enrolled. Although this investment provides some support to offset the expense of serving non-Indian students, it falls well below the amount the state provides per student to non-tribal community colleges and public universities.

Tribal colleges have expanded their enrollment demographic in recent years partly because they continue to be an affordable option for students and families and also because they have increased academic offerings. Tribal colleges provide job training opportunities that meet the needs of their local communities. Additionally, they have joined tribal leaders in efforts to preserve tribal language, history and culture. All the while, their modest size and structure has enabled to them to expand their degree offerings to reflect the broader job market. Many now offer degrees in information technology, business management, and entrepreneurship, as well as healthcare-related professions like nursing and psychology. They have also worked to develop coordinated agreements with colleges in the Montana University System, so that students can successfully transfer to a MUS school or access online courses to meet their academic and career needs.

Today, tribal colleges are a great option for any student looking for an affordable, close-to-home education that includes a smaller campus and a modest class size that affords them the personal attention needed for academic success.

It’s Tax Day! Let’s Invest in Montana.

We had a few extra days this year to file our taxes, so today, April 18th, is the official Tax Day! This past week, we have been posting quotes from real Montanans who are reminding us all about the importance of taxes in fulfilling our shared vision of a better Montana and stronger communities.

Our taxes enable us to invest in the building blocks of a strong economy and the quality of life that makes Montana such a great place to live.

MWV education

The Montana Department of Revenue’s biennial report is a good roadmap for learning about how tax revenue is invested back into our communities.

  • Tax dollars are used to support education in Montana more than anything else. The money helps build and support Montana public schools, community colleges, universities, and tribal colleges. These investments make it possible for Montanans to compete in today’s global economy and helps businesses access the skilled workers they need to thrive. Tax dollars sustain a high quality education through our teachers and programs. And this is an investment we can be proud of. This past year, Montana’s graduation rate reached a historic high of 86 percent. This upfront investment in our children has rippling effects across the state and into the future. This same report notes that these higher graduation rates will result in additional earnings of $90 million over students’ lifetimes, producing higher revenue for the state and greater economic activity in local communities in the future.
  • State and local spending helps build and maintain roads and bridges and supports the police and firefighters that protect our communities. Investments in infrastructure ensure that our highways and bridges are well maintained and safe to travel so we can get to and from work and explore all of the beautiful places in our state.
  • Montana also invests in protecting our natural resources and environment, including the parks, trails, and forests we all enjoy. Both state and federal tax dollars maintain and conserve 54 state parks and two national parks so we can continue to camp, fish, and hike throughout Montana.

Tax dollars support the everyday necessities we rely on like police officers, clean water, hospitals, and public schools. These funds also sustain items that enrich our lives like parks and libraries. On this Tax Day, take a moment to consider just how much taxes improve you and your family’s well-being.

Who Pays in Montana?

Tax Day is around the corner! Why are we so excited? Because taxes represent our collective investment in public services upon which we all rely, like roads, public safety, schools, and much more. Our taxes make our state a better place to live and raise families, and that is something to celebrate.

This year, Tax Day is Monday the 18th and we invite you to join The Montana Budget and Policy Center at the Blackfoot Brewery to raise a pint to investing in Montana and our organization. Until then, we thought we would help you brush up on who is paying taxes in our state.

Overall, when considering all types of state and local taxes, low-and moderate-income individuals pay a greater share of income in taxes than do higher income earners. As you can see below, families earning less than $19,000 a year pay 6.1 percent of their income in taxes, while the top one percent of earners (those earning over $435,000) pay 4.7 percent.

Lowest 20%

Why do low-income families pay a greater share? To answer this, let’s see how three types of tax (income, property, and sales) influence tax fairness.

In many states, sales tax is a significant source of revenue. This disproportionately impacts low-income families, because we all must purchase essential items like food and clothing, and all individuals pay the same percentage of tax, regardless of income. Sales tax is one example of a “regressive” tax, where lower-income individuals pay a greater proportion of their earnings in taxes. While Montana does not have a statewide sales tax, we do have excise taxes on goods like gas, cigarettes, and cellphone services. Also, some communities in Montana, like Whitefish, have a resort tax to help maintain the community’s local infrastructure, which undergoes wear-and tear during tourist season.

Additionally, Montana relies heavily on property taxes to fund public services. Like sales and excise taxes, low-wage earners often pay a higher share of their income in property taxes. Housing costs tend to be a larger proportion of low-income families’ earnings, compared to high-income earners. For example, a family making $50,000 a year may own a home worth $150,000, or three times their income. While a family making $1 million per year may own a home worth $500,000, or half of their income. Renters also pay because landlords pass along these taxes when setting rent.

While low-income families pay more than their fair share in property and excise taxes, Montana’s income tax helps balance (but not completely neutralize) our overall tax structure. In Montana, the highest-paid individuals pay 3.8 percent of their annual earnings into income taxes, while the lowest-paid individuals pay less than 1 percent. While our state income tax helps mitigate the effects that property and local taxes have on low-income families, there’s still work to be done.

While not perfect, Montana’s tax structure is ranked third most fair in terms of state and local taxes. Of course, like all states, we can improve. For example, Montana remains one of five states that continue to impose income taxes on families living in poverty. Legislators could help balance our tax system and mitigate the impact that income taxes have on these families by adopting a state earned income tax credit, which could support Montana’s low-income workers, our communities, and state economy.

Now that you’ve brushed up, help us celebrate this important day. As you file your returns, remember that taxes are critical to making our state and local communities the places we love to live in.

MBPC Announces New State-Tribal Policy Specialist

MBPC is thrilled to announce Heather Cahoon as our new State-Tribal Policy Analyst. Heather brings a wealth of experience in policy research, and we know she will be an incredible addition to our team.

Heather is a policy scholar with a PhD in research on the evolution of tribal sovereignty in the U.S. as impacted by Heather Cahoon.AIA.headshotmajor pieces of federal Indian policy and subsequent interpretations by the U.S. Supreme Court. She has worked with numerous tribal, state and non-profit organizations to address socioeconomic issues facing American Indians in Montana and, in general, seeks to further decolonization as it relates to rebuilding indigenous governments, economies and other social institutions. She holds an Interdisciplinary PhD in History, Native American Studies, and Anthropology from the University of Montana.

A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, she was born and raised on her reservation but now resides in Missoula where she has taught for the University of Montana’s Native American Studies Department for the past six years. During this time, she was named UM’s first Eloise Cobell Institute Scholar, a title reserved for faculty who are continuing Cobell’s legacy of working for justice and equity for American Indians and tribal communities. She also currently serves on the board of directors for Western Native Voice.

In 2011, MBPC established the State-Tribal Policy Analyst position to promote sound fiscal and budget policy that can help reverse the history of economic injustice that has led many American Indians to unacceptable levels of poverty, unemployment, and poor health. Our work aims to inform policymakers on how tax and budget choices affect Indian Country, and to increase participation among American Indians in advocacy for sufficient investment in the state budget.

We are excited for all we can accomplish together. 

If you would like to contact Heather and welcome her to this important work, you can do so at hcahoon@montanabudget.org.

Montana can expect continued economic benefits from Medicaid expansion

States across the country that have expanded Medicaid are experiencing significant savings as well as increased revenue, and as we heard from the Montana health agency this week, we can expect similar experiences here in Montana after the passage of the HELP Act. In case you missed it, MBPC released a new report this week, highlighting the successful enrollment levels in Medicaid – already, over 38,000 Montanans have enrolled– and detailing some effective strategies the state should consider in continuing its outreach to eligible Montanans.

The Department of Public Health and Human Services also announced this week that the State of Montana has already experienced $3 million in savings to the state general fund, and over $37 million in NEW federal dollars invested in communities across the state.

Based on other states’ experiences, Montana can expect continued good news as enrollment grows. A new study out this month shows that all expansion states should expect to see state budgetary savings and additional revenue.

As we’ve talked about before, the federal government pays 100% of the cost of expansion. That match will gradually scale down, but will never drop below 90%. This compares to a federal match of about 70% for the previously eligible Medicaid population. States have been able to “transfer” a portion of that previously eligible population into the new adult group covered at the higher federal match. For the individual, insurance won’t look any different (or in some cases, may be better!), but the state will see savings on what it has to spend on Medicaid. We’ve already seen this in Montana – with the state receiving the higher match for over 8,000 individuals previously covered by Medicaid. This translates to over $3 million in savings to the state general fund.

The report also details additional savings, through lower uncompensated care costs and less pressure on state resources for mental and behavioral health programs, public health programs, and health care services for prisoners. Because many of those who access these programs are now eligible for Medicaid, they can get preventative care and other services they need at lower cost to the state. We don’t yet have data for Montana, but the research shows that savings in other states have exceeded expectations.

Additionally, those new federal dollars into Montana communities have rippling effects all over the state. Even when the federal share scales down to a 90% matching rate, this is still a good deal for states, because these federal funds generate new economic activity that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. A simple comparison is when someone living outside of Montana visits and spends money in the state. Unlike a state resident choosing to spend a dollar in one area of the state economy versus another, our state economy reaps the benefits of that new out-of-state dollar. As the article points out, for every 90 cents in federal funds to pay for one dollar of new Medicaid spending, the state should expect $1.35 to $1.80 in state economic activity, supporting jobs and increasing tax revenues for state and local governments.

Over 38,000 Montanans are getting the health care coverage they need to stay healthy and to be active members of their communities. We’ve heard from many of these folks, who have told their stories about how getting the health services they need has made a real difference. And the fact that the state will see even greater economic benefits than anticipated is “icing on the cake”.