Governor Steve Bullock announced today that Montana’s plan to extend health coverage to thousands of the state’s residents has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“For nearly three years, thousands of Montanans have worked and waited for our state to extend health coverage to our friends, neighbors, and family members. Today, I’m pleased to say that wait is over,” Bullock said. “This plan will bring Montanans’ tax dollars home to expand access to quality affordable healthcare, throw a lifeline to our state’s struggling rural hospitals, and reduce the cost shifting to those of us fortunate enough to have insurance.”

Bullock signed the Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership (HELP) Act into state law on April 29, 2015, making Montana the only state this year to pass healthcare expansion legislatively. But federal approval was required before the new law could move forward.

Montanans can apply now for the new HELP Plan for coverage that will begin in January.

This bipartisan plan makes health coverage available to individuals and families who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (roughly $16,000 per year for an individual and $33,000 for a family of four)

Coverage is offered through a private insurance company, following the model of the successful Healthy Montana Kids health care program. Montana is the only state in the nation to take this unique approach.

The federal government covers the entire cost of this expansion until 2017, and will continue to cover no less than 90 percent of the cost after full implementation.

This plan also includes limited premiums and co-pays to encourage personal responsibility. In order to incentivize healthy behaviors, there are no co-pays for preventive services, such as health screenings, help to quit smoking, and getting a flu shot.

There are multiple ways to apply for coverage:

●     Online:
●     Phone: Over the phone at the Federal Marketplace at 1–800–318–2596, available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week
●     In Person: Montanans can go to any local community health centers or Office of Public Assistance.

For more information, go to the DPHHS website at