FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 29, 2015
Dave Parker, Communications Director, 444-9844
Mike Wessler, Deputy Communications Director, 444-9725
Governor Steve Bullock Signs Montana HELP Act Into Law
Law Brings Montana Tax Dollars Back to State to Expand Health Coverage
Helena, MT - Governor Steve Bullock today was joined by Sen. Ed Buttrey as he signed the Montana Health and Livelihood Economic Partnership (HELP) Act into law at a packed ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. The measure brings Montana federal tax dollars back to the state to expand health coverage to residents that fall into the Medicaid coverage gap.
“Today’s bill signing is a victory for all Montanans, from the thousands of folks who urged their lawmakers to support this measure, to communities who will no longer wonder if their hospital will remain open, to the businesses who struggle to provide health insurance for their employees, to the bipartisan group of legislators who put politics aside to make it a reality,” Bullock said of the measure. “More than anything though, the HELP Act is a victory for the hard-working Montanans who live everyday knowing they’re one accident or illness away from bankruptcy.”
The measure, which received bipartisan support in both houses of the Montana legislature, will provide low-cost health insurance to Montanans that make too much money for traditional Medicaid, but too little to receive subsidies on the health insurance exchange. In addition, the measure seeks to assist clients in finding better paying jobs by connecting them with career services through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.
“We are proud to have crafted a plan to that goes beyond just providing healthcare, but also serves to help our poorest citizens find a pathway out of poverty,” Buttrey said. “Our plan is a unique, Montana-made solution that gives its members the responsibility for their health, and economic livelihood. Today we celebrate innovation, hard work, and the resulting HELP Act which offers health and prosperity for thousands of Montanans and their families.”
Since being sworn into office, Bullock has been a strong advocate of bringing Montana tax dollars back to the state to expand health coverage. He argued that this step will not only improve the lives of Montanans, it will also help rural hospitals that are struggling the keep their doors open under the crushing costs of uncompensated care, and will reduce the cost-shifting that is driving up health care costs on Montanans with insurance.
The law requires a waiver from the Center for Medicaid Services before Montanans are able to receive coverage.