The embattled Medicaid Expansion bill cleared the Montana State senate by a narrow vote during Monday’s floor session.

Speaker of the House Greg Hertz (R) Polson spoke with KGVO News during a brief break in the afternoon session on Monday to relay the vote.

“The Senate just passed Medicaid Expansion on second reading by a vote of 26 for and 24 against,” said Hertz. “The bill still needs to go through a third reading tomorrow to meet the transmittal deadline, and I suspect that it will probably hold on to that same vote, and so it looks like that issue will move forward. I’m not in support of Medicaid Expansion because it needed a number of reforms as it has some significant budgetary impacts and could in the future cause some significant problems for the state budget.”

Hertz elaborated on what may happen to Montana’s budget as Medicaid Expansion continues to grow.

“Originally, when Medicaid came on they were only expecting about 50,000 people to sign up and now we have over 100,000 people on the program, so our budget has certainly increased because of that,” he said. “Also, the federal match is going to be dropping down to only a 90 percent match, so that’s going to cause some more problems.”

Hertz said there are safeguards in the bill to make sure than only Montanans can take advantage of the benefits.

“There are some requirements in the Montana law that passed in the Senate today that you will have to prove that you’re a U.S. citizen and a Montana resident, because we do have a problem with some non-Montana residents on our Medicaid system,” he said.

Hertz said the legislature’s work is winding down, and there is still some work to do on the state budget.

“We could be out of here by late next week, if all goes well,” he said.

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