Bullock touts expanded Medicaid at Montana forum

BILLINGS – Gov. Steve Bullock led a roundtable Thursday in Billings on a new study touting the benefits of expanded Medicaid in Montana.

The message from RiverStone Health: Montana’s expanded Medicaid program is returning huge dividends to the state, not only with jobs and personal income growth but a significant investment in Montanan’s health and well-being.

“We’ve been able to demonstrate – here’s the difference it can make in individual lives, here’s the difference it can make in keeping rural providers sustained and alive, here’s the difference it can make with our 17 primary care community health centers, and we’ve been able to do it in a unique, Montana way,” Gov. Bullock said at the gathering of lawmakers and health-care providers.

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Gov. Bullock added that it’s a made-in-Montana solution that other states are now looking to replicate.

John Felton, president of RiverStone Health, said the program is good business for providers and good medicine for Montanans, “what we need is time to continue to see the full benefit of it,” he said.

Although the future of expanded Medicaid will likely come before the 2019 Legislature, already there is an effort to put the issue before voters this fall. Initiative 185, now approved for signature gathering, proposes an increase in state tobacco taxes to fund Medicaid expansion into the future.

Gov. Bullock said he wholeheartedly supports the initiative, noting that Montana tobacco taxes have not been increased since 2004.

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