Governor Steve Bullock today held a press conference to tout the economic benefits of Montana Medicaid in generating jobs and boosting labor market participation among low-income Montanans. Bullock shared data released today by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Montana Healthcare Foundation, and Headwaters Foundation in a report on “The Economic Impact of Medicaid Expansion in Montana.”
“This report proves Medicaid works for Montana,” said Governor Bullock. “We worked with Republicans and Democrats to create an innovative plan - unique to Montana - that not only improves the health of our families, friends and neighbors, but also the health of our economy. It is critical it continues.”
Governor Bullock discussed Montana’s unique HELP-Link program, which identifies barriers to employment and matches people with opportunities to help remove these barriers. HELP-Link connects Medicaid enrollees with high quality workforce training, employment services, job openings in their communities, and opportunities to advance their careers and earning potential.
The report finds that the HELP-Link program has helped to increase labor force participation among low-income Montanans by 6-9%. It found that “similar gains in labor force participation did not occur among low-income populations in other states.”
“This model and the evidence of its success comes at such an extremely important time in our nation. While other states are pushing work requirements that have it backwards, we are putting more people to work with higher wages,” Governor Bullock continued.
Montana’s HELP-Link model provides a pathway out of poverty unique to Montana through workforce assessment, employment assistance, and training, and is different than a work requirement other states are pursuing. Work requirements in states like Kentucky and Mississippi are anticipated to lead to losses in health care coverage.
Almost 23,000 people enrolled through HELP-Link have received employment services through the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, with over half of the participants earning higher wages after completing the program.
Governor Bullock also highlighted findings from the report that Montana Medicaid benefits Montana’s overall economy by:
- Creating 5,000 jobs annually;
- Saving $40 million so far in state spending;
- Generating $300 million in personal income;
- Infusing $500 million into the state’s economy each year and bringing our federal tax dollars back home;
- Increasing Health Center Medicaid revenue by over $11 million;
- Decreasing uncompensated care costs by nearly 45%.
Governor Bullock worked with Republican and Democratic legislators to pass the Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership (HELP) Act, an innovative approach to Medicaid expansion. This has led to a dramatic drop in the number of Montanans without insurance. Over 93,000 Montanans have gained access to health care and the uninsured rate in Montana has dropped from a staggering 20% in 2013 to 7% in 2016.