Medicaid expansion in the 2019 legislative session:

What You Need to Know

The 2019 Legislative Session is in full swing! The Montana Women Vote staff are here to keep you informed and give you the tools to affect policy and create change in Montana.

Thank you so much for your efforts to continue Medicaid expansion in Montana. We want to give you an update on what happened in yesterday’s House Human Services Committee. Our work is not done! We will continue fighting for affordable, quality, accessible healthcare for all Montanans. 

House Bill 425 – Tabled

Last night, the House Human Services Committee tabled House Bill 425, which would have renewed Medicaid expansion in Montana.

We want to thank Representative Mary Caferro for her work carrying HB 425. She spent countless hours gaining input and making sure this bill was the best bill it could be. 

We also want to thank all of you who sent messages, made phone calls, talked with your neighbors, or shared a personal story about the importance of continuing Montana’s Medicaid expansion program. Your voices were heard, and the pressure we put on lawmakers to protect healthcare led to a bipartisan compromise.

House Bill 658 – Amended

After tabling HB 425 last night, the House Human Services Committee passed a heavily amended version of House Bill 658, making it a compromise bill that protects people’s healthcare.

House Bill 658 would continue Montana’s Medicaid expansion program, establish community engagement requirements, and apply a number of exemptions to those requirements. 

  • HB 658 requires community engagement but recognizes and exempts those that are already working and those that face barriers to work.
  • DPHHS will shoulder the majority of the work to verify exemptions, so enrollees are not burdened with excessive reporting requirements.
  • Folks who do not qualify for any of the above exemptions will be required to report at least 80 hours a month of “community engagement” requirements.
  • While the exemptions should protect the vast majority of enrollees, the bill also now provides an additional protection if disenrollment exceeds expected levels.
  • HB 658 also includes a clause that would protect the entire expansion, even if a court were to strike down a portion of it.
  • The bill provides a sunset to the program (set on June 30, 2025) but only in the event that the community engagement requirements are determined illegal.

Montana Women Vote staff are still working through the amended bill and will have more information for you as soon as possible. If you’d like more information on House Bill 658, we recommend Holly Michels’ story in the Helena IR or Corin Cates-Carney’s reporting for MT Public Radio. We will, as always, keep you posted about policy changes related to healthcare access and affordability.

Keep an eye out for phone banks in your area!