Montana opens public comment period for Medicaid expansion
Federal officials are taking public comment in Montana concerning the expansion of Medicaid coverage. The state is currently working on expanding Medicaid coverage to some 70,000 low-income residents. The comment period is set to run through October 15, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Expanding the state’s health insurance program has been a hard battle, as state lawmakers have resisted expanding the program due such an action’s association with the Affordable Care Act.
State has already outlined plans to expand its Medicaid system
Earlier this year, Governor Steve Bullock actually signed legislation to approve the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, but efforts to ensure expansion have been slow to find traction. The state has yet to receive approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the expansion, which involves implementing premiums, co-pays, and job training programs. Despite the lack of approval from the federal agency, the expansion is expected to begin in early 2016. Once the state’s public comment period is over, it will submit its plans for expanding the Medicaid system to the federal agency for final approval.
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State needs final approval from federal agency before it can expand Medicaid program
One of the issues regarding expanding Medicaid has to do with the costs that the state will incur. Many lawmakers in the state believed that a less expensive alternative to Medicaid expansion would be supporting the Montana Healthy Family Plan, which would make health insurance more accessible, but at a relatively low cost for the state. Some state officials opposed making Medicaid coverage available to able-bodied adults without children, suggesting that these consumers could find the coverage they need from the private market.
Some consumers could find Medicaid coverage too expensive for them
One of the reasons that the state must seek approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is that those seeking coverage through the state’s Medicaid program will be paying premiums equal to 2% of their income. This could be a problem for some consumers who are already experiencing significant financial pressure.