According to the Montana Healthcare Foundation, Medicaid expansion has saved millions of dollars in the state’s budget, as well as helped tens of thousands of people receive preventive healthcare services.

Foundation CEO Aaron Wernham said the newly issued report highlights four areas where Medicaid expansion has benefited the state.

“Medicaid expansion has cut the number of those without health insurance in half, from about 15 percent to just seven and a half percent,” said Wernham. “Another benefit is the increase in people seeking preventive care services, where they might have delayed going to the doctor if they didn’t have insurance, we’ve now seen more than 65,000 adults receiving services and nearly 200,000 health screenings, vaccinations  and wellness visits.”

Wernham says preventive care helps to catch disease early so the chance for a cure is much higher.

“The third factor is the economics for rural hospitals,” he said. “We’ve heard a lot about how Medicaid is not the highest payer for health services, however, this report shows that we’ve cut hospital debt considerably, so that uncompensated care, the care that hospitals have to pay out of pocket has gone down by over $100 million. In addition, Hospitals became more profitable. In fact, a recent federal report showed that in states with Medicaid expansion, rural hospitals were about six times less likely to close. In Montana, we haven’t seen a single rural hospital close since Medicaid expanded.”

Wernham concluded by saying that Medicaid expansion has actually helped Montanans get better paying jobs.

“Montana’s unique ‘help-link’ program that was created to help Medicaid recipients find jobs, or better paying jobs appears to be working,” he said. “We’ve found that the majority of people who have received services have actually gotten jobs, or gotten better jobs by about 78 percent. That’s Montana innovation. No other state in the country has done anything like that, and it seems to be working.”