HELENA — The Montana House has given its final approval to the bill continuing Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage to 96,000 low-income adults in the state.
The House approved House Bill 658 on a 61-37 vote on Saturday, sending it on to the Senate — where it’s expected to pass.
Support came from the same coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans who voted Friday to advance the measure to its final vote. Forty-one Democrats and 20 Republicans voted for the measure Saturday.
Medicaid expansion, which began in January 2016, expires this June unless the Legislature reauthorizes it.
It offers government-funded health coverage to adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $17,200 a year for a single person.
The federal government pays 90% of the $700 million-a-year program.
HB658, sponsored by Rep. Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls) continues the program, but makes some changes, such as requiring some participants to log at least 80 hours of “community engagement,” which could be a job, job training, volunteer work, a full-time student, or a drug-treatment program.
The bill also includes several taxes to help finance the state share of the costs, including a 0.875% tax on Montana hospitals’ outpatient services. That tax generates $15 million a year for the state, but also generates another $100 million in federal matching funds for the hospitals, which they say is needed to help cover the cost of treating Medicaid patients.
-Mike Dennison reporting for MTN News