MT Medicaid Expansion Sustainable and Creates 5,000 Jobs, says Economist
Medicaid expansion was hotly debated in the Montana legislature until it was approved in 2015. At the time, there were many predictions of how the program would perform, but now the state has some actual data. Bureau of Business and Economic Research Economist Bryce Ward recently did a study on the program and says it has had a positive impact from a statewide perspective.
"We find that if enrollment stays roughly where it is right now, it brings in about $500 Million a year to pay for the medicaid expansion population," Ward said. "Now, about 20 percent of that was money that the federal government was going to spend here anyway, so we take that out and then look at how that money ripples through the economy and what we find is that the remaining money, as it ripples through, generates about 5,000 jobs a year in Montana and about $280 million of income."
One of the major criticisms of expansion was that it would become unsustainable for Montana when the state is required to ramp up its share of the cost in 2020, but Ward says if things stay similar to how they are now, that won’t be a problem.
"When we shift people from traditional medicaid to the expansion that saves the state money," Ward said. "The state is allowed to put the corrections population into medicaid so they get lower rates, so that saves the state money. So, you take the savings and then you add the increased revenue from the 5,000 jobs and it should pay for itself, even going forward."
Ward says about two-thirds of the over 90,000 Montanans currently signed up under the Medicaid Expansion didn’t have coverage before. The real question now, is if the Obama-era medicaid expansion plan is going to survive unchanged through the Trump administration.