A new study prepared for the Headwaters Foundation and the Montana Healthcare Foundation states that Medicaid expansion has brought thousands jobs and millions of dollars of economic growth to the state.

Bryce Ward, ABMJ Consultant and economist with the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said the numbers are staggering.

“Over the long run, there will be about 6,000 additional jobs and $350 million a year in income that Medicaid expansion supports,” said Ward. “But, Medicaid expansion isn’t just a jobs program, it also represents an investment on Montanans’ health by providing health insurance. They’ll go to the doctor more and hopefully get healthier.”

Ward said there are also more Montanans in the workplace thanks to Medicaid expansion.

“Whether it’s a combination of Medicaid expansion and the associated Health Link program , which coincided with Medicaid expansion, workforce participation among low income Montanans went up, and we don’t see those kinds of changes among higher income Montanans, so that suggests it’s due to Medicaid expansion and the Health Link program ,” he said. “We also find the health of our rural hospitals is getting better because the expansion reduces uncompensated care, and that’s a boon to all providers.”

Ward hopes that the study convinces the Montana Legislature now in session will be able to see Medicaid expansion as a boon to the state.

“To me, I hope it leads them to say this is a program that doing a lot of good and barely costs us anything,” he said.

Montana’s Medicaid expansion has introduced more than $600 million each year into Montana’s economy, generating approximately 6,000 new jobs and $350 million per year in personal income.