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Montana Archives — Protect Our Care

Missoula Local Leaders to Champion ACA and Call for Continued Access to Health Care

MISSOULA, MONTANA – Today, local and national health care advocates met at Partnership Health Center in Missoula to host a roundtable discussion highlighting the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to Montanans.

The event was part of Protect Our Care’s national “Care Force One Tour”. The group is traveling 11,505 miles across the country, with 48 events in 23 states, to give community members, elected officials, and health care experts the opportunity to share personal stories about the ACA and how it has benefitted Montanans.

CEO of Partnership Health Center, Laurie Francis opened by emphasizing the importance of the ACA to Montana. “Partnership Health Center serves just over 16,000 people. The Affordable Care Act and allowance of pre-existing conditions have been critically important to patients at partnership our ability to add extra services. We’ve gone from 40% uninsured to 15% uninsured.”

Protect Our Care Montana steering committee member Amy Coseo is a cancer survivor and small business owner. Coseo emphasized how continued coverage under the ACA allows Montanans to focus on getting through treatment and healing instead of constantly worrying about hitting caps or going bankrupt. She spoke about her concerns recently shifting from what happens “‘if I lose coverage’ to  ‘when I lose coverage’.

The ACA also covers preventative services for Montanans – like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – which encourages patients to seek preventative care, making them healthier in the long-run and saves significant costs down the road.

Protect Our Care member and advocate, Laura Packard, shared a personal story of being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and receiving healthcare coverage through the ACA. “Like 1/5 of Americans with coverage under the ACA, I’m self-employed. Without the ACA, no insurance company would choose to give me a policy. We need to fight the sabotage and ensure future generations have access to comprehensive health care they deserve.”

Rep. Kim Dudik, HD 94, addressed the importance of the ACA for Montana’s Medicaid expansion and its impacts on Montana and in Missoula County. “The ACA is a federal policy, but it became a state policy issue when we voted to expand Medicaid. Because of Montana’s Medicaid, over 96,000 Montanans and 11,347 Missoula County residents were able to gain access to healthcare, including cancer screenings, vaccinations, wellness visits, and dental exams.”

Sen. Diane Sands, SD 49, emphasized the importance of Montana Medicaid’s support for rural hospitals. “I grew up in Eastern Montana. Many of these communities are built around and rely on hospitals for jobs and access to health care. It is absolutely essential that we continue to help people access care at and support our critical access hospitals. Montana’s Medicaid helps us do that.”

Hospitals in states who have expanded Medicaid are six times less likely to close than in states who haven’t expanded Medicaid. Since 2010, 83 rural hospitals have closed, with 90% of those closures happening in states that refused to expand Medicaid.

Lisa Davey and her son Logan are two Missoula residents who have a personal connection to the necessity of the Affordable Care Act. “The first day of my son’s life cost over $500,000 and the ACA made lifetime caps illegal,” said Davey. “His father and I can now find work without having to shop around to avoid hitting caps with specific insurers in Montana.” Ms. Davey also added that because of the ACA, her son will remain covered until he is 26, instead of being forced to find new or employer-based insurance at 19.

Underscoring the importance of continuing healthcare access under the ACA and Montana’s Medicaid, John Crawford shared his experience as a beneficiary of Medicaid expansion who has found better work and financial stability because of the program. He posed a question to those opposed to the efforts, “For the smallest investment you have increased the health and vitality for 100,000 Montanans. To those who oppose these things: What are we saying to those kids? To those businesses who want to move into the state? To our tribal communities? You are saying they are not valuable to Montana. With this small investment we can increase vitality and economic benefits for all Montanans and not just the people who benefit now.”

Before the ACA, many Montanans had never carried health insurance and had difficulty accessing care. Olivia Riutta, of Montana Primary Care Association, discussed efforts to assist Montanans in accessing healthcare for the first time. “There are about 45,000 Montanans who rely on the ACA. 87% receive financial assistance to pay their monthly premiums. There a lot of folks who are working hard in our communities to connect certified applications counselors to the Montanans, so the people need coverage have the information and support to get covered.”

Since 2013, navigator grants were given to non-profits to hire navigators to help people enroll in coverage through the exchange or through Montana’s Medicaid.Unfortunately, no navigator assistance funding was received in Montana this year.

Open enrollment for the ACA marketplaces in Montana begins on November 1, 2018. Members of the public can visit www.covermt.org, put in their zip code, and connect with community leaders who are certified to assist in accessing and navigating the health insurance marketplace.

Protect our Care Montana is an organization of Montana leaders focused on educating the public about the impacts and importance of the Affordable Care Act.

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  • It’s expected that 40 year old Montanans will face paying an extra $1,330 for marketplace coverage in 2019 if efforts to undermine the marketplace continue.
  • Montana expanded Medicaid under the ACA and the 96,000 Montanans who have gained coverage because of this program would find their care at risk if the law were repealed.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to Montana and 26,000 Montanans could lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • 49,000 Montanans who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if the current lawsuit continues; and protections for 426,000 Montanans living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.

Butte Local Leaders Champion ACA and Call for Continued Access to Health Care

BUTTE, MONTANA – Today, local and national health care advocates met at Southwest Montana Community Health Center in Butte to host a roundtable discussion highlighting the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to Montanans.

The event was part of Protect Our Care’s national “Care Force One Tour”. The group is traveling 11,505 miles across the country, with 48 events in 23 states, to give community members, elected officials, and health care experts the opportunity to share personal stories about the ACA and how it has benefitted Montanans.

CEO for Southwest Montana Community Health Center, Jennifer Malone, opened by emphasizing the importance of the ACA to Montana. “Our mission here is inspire hope and empower wellness by providing access to comprehensive healthcare. That’s what the ACA is all about, access. In our county, there are 4,000 people receiving care now when they weren’t before.”

Support of the ACA has provided the opportunity for Southwest Montana Community Health Center to create and provide behavioral health care to the community. Molly Malloy, the director of Behavior Health spoke to the benefits the expanded healthcare law has provided, “I’ve witnessed first-hand the benefits of the ACA to our community. We’ve been able to provide care to people, some for the first time. People are accessing care now in a way they haven’t been able to before. We are identifying opportunities to prevent healthcare crises earlier.”

Susanne Whelchel, a Protect Our Care Montana steering committee member with a pre-existing condition brought a personal context to the threats Montanans are facing. “If current national efforts prevail, 425,900 Montanans with pre-existing conditions would be at risk for losing the coverage they have now. As a Montanan with a pre-existing condition, the ACA is protecting me by ensuring I will have insurance and access to health care. Every American deserves access to health care.”

The ACA also covers preventative services for Montanans – like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – which encourages patients to seek preventative care, making them healthier in the long-run and saves significant costs down the road.

Protect Our Care member and advocate, Laura Packard, shared a personal story of being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and receiving health care coverage through the ACA. “The Affordable Care Act saved my life. I had junk insurance before the ACA, if I still had that insurance, I would be bankrupt or dead. We need insurance for our care, we need insurance to stay alive.”

Rep. Ryan Lynch, HD 76, shared facts about Montana’s Medicaid expansion, which as supported by the ACA, provides access health care to all Montanans, including those in Silver Bow County. “Of the 96,000 Montanans who are benefiting from Medicaid Expansion, just over 4,000 are right here in our county. But, importantly, it’s to remember that each one of those numbers is a person with a story, and someone we’ve been able to get into care including cancer screenings, vaccinations, wellness visits, and dental exams.”

Pat Noonan, formerly representative of HD 73, spoke to the importance of the ACA to Montana’s Medicaid expansion “Healthcare is one of our largest industries in Montana and the largest sector for private income in the state. Medicaid Expansion has created 500 new jobs, $280M in personal income, $47M in new tax revenue, and saved nearly $36M with federal support. Since 2010, 83 rural hospitals have closed, with 90% of those closures happening in states that refused to expand Medicaid. We’re so lucky that isn’t the case in anywhere in Montana.”

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human services recently released a Medicaid dashboard tool, a new interactive online dashboard offering information about the health benefits and local impact of Montana’s Medicaid expansion.

Eric Nyland, a representative of Senator Jon Tester, read a statement from the Senator which thanked gathered members for their work and praised the work of community health centers across Montana who “provide affordable, quality care to over 100,000 Montanans.”

Before the ACA, many Montanans had never carried health insurance and had difficulty accessing care. Unfortunately, no navigator assistance funding was received in Montana this year. In coming months, the Montana Primary Care Association will assist uninsured people in enrolling in coverage through the exchange or through Montana’s Medicaid. Montana faced a big loss without navigator funding as the grants helped folks “navigate” the complexity of signing up for health insurance. Montana’s Community Health Centers are going to be around to help pick up the slack.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that Montana’s Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act have saved lives,” said Holly McCamant, outreach and enrollment director for Southwest Montana Community Health.

Open enrollment for the ACA marketplaces in Montana begins on November 1, 2018. People can visit www.covermt.org, put in their zip code, and connect with community members who are certified to assist in accessing and navigating the health insurance marketplace.

Protect our Care Montana is an organization of Montana leaders focused on educating the public about the impacts and importance of the Affordable Care Act. “Care Force One” will also travel to Butte and Missoula on Friday, October 12. Find out more at https://protectourcarebustour.com/.

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  • It’s expected that 40 year old Montanans will face paying an extra $1,330 for marketplace coverage in 2019 if efforts to undermine the marketplace continue.
  • Montana expanded Medicaid under the ACA and the 96,000 Montanans who have gained coverage because of this program would find their care at risk if the law were repealed.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to Montana and 26,000 Montanans could lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • 49,000 Montanans who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if the current lawsuit continues; and protections for 426,000 Montanans living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.

Billings Local Leaders Champion ACA and Call for Continued Access to Health Care

Former Region 8 Health and Human Services Director Kim Gillan Speaks in Billings.

BILLINGS, MONTANA – Today, local and national health care advocates met at RiverStone Health in Billings to host a roundtable discussion highlighting the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to Montanans.

The event was part of Protect Our Care’s national “Care Force One Tour”. The group is traveling 11,505 miles across the country, with 48 events in 23 states, to give community members, elected officials, and health care experts the opportunity to share personal stories about the ACA and how it has benefitted Montanans.

Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs for RiverStone Health, Barbara Schneeman, opened by emphasizing the importance of the ACA to Montana.“Prior to the ACA MT had one of the highest rates of uninsured persons in the country, it’s now 7.5%. The ACA has not only opened health care to more people but provided primary physician training and support to those health care professionals serving our state. The ACA allows Montanans to get the care they need, when they need it.”

Schneeman was joined by RiverStone Health physician, Dr. Mike Geurin who said, “Because patients have an ongoing source of care, we are able to educate them about when to call us and when a trip to the ER is the best option. Providing preventative services and reducing wait times for emergency care benefits all of us, because illness doesn’t recognize personal wealth, insurance status, or political party.”

The ACA also covers preventative services for Montanans – like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – which encourages patients to seek preventative care, making them healthier in the long-run and saves significant costs down the road.

Kim Gillan, former Region 8 Health and Human Services Director and Protect Our Care Montana committee member, discussed the impacts current efforts to dismantle the ACA would have on Montanans across the state. “Among the 429,500 Montanans with pre-existing conditions, there are 54,000 Montana children that already have a pre-existing condition. Without protections for them, what will their future hold? What if no work-provided insurance will cover them? How can they be productive members of society constantly living in fear that they will not have access to health care?”

Protect Our Care member and advocate, Laura Packard, shared a personal story of being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and receiving health care coverage through the ACA. “If I still had junk insurance, I would now be bankrupt or dead. Without the ACA, no insurance company would choose to give me a policy. We need to fight the sabotage and ensure future generations have access to comprehensive health care they deserve.”

Rep. Kathy Kelker, HD 47, shared facts about Montana’s Medicaid expansion, which as supported by the ACA, provides access health care to all Montanans, including those in Yellowstone County. “96,656 adults, including 13,941 here in Yellowstone County were able to gain access to health care, including cancer screenings, vaccinations, wellness visits, and dental exams.”

Sen. Mary McNally, SD24, added, “Critical access hospitals in the states who have expanded Medicaid are six hundred less likely to close than in states who haven’t expanded Medicaid. Since 2010, 83 rural hospitals across the country have closed, with 90% of those closures happening in states that refused to expand Medicaid. We’re so lucky that isn’t the case in anywhere in Montana.”

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human services recently released a Medicaid dashboard tool, a new interactive online dashboard offering information about the health benefits and local impact of Montana’s Medicaid expansion.

Before the ACA, many Montanans had never carried health insurance and had difficulty accessing care. Unfortunately, no navigator assistance funding was received in Montana this year. Stacey Anderson, of Montana Primary Care Association, discussed efforts to assist Montanans in accessing health care for the first time. “Since 2013, navigator grants were given to non-profits to hire people to help uninsured people enroll in coverage through the exchange or through Montana’s Medicaid. This is a big loss to Montana as the navigator grants helped folks “navigate” the complexity of signing up for health insurance. The good news is that Montana’s Community Health Centers are picking up the slack.”

Open enrollment for the ACA marketplaces in Montana begins on November 1, 2018. People can visit www.covermt.org, put in their zip code, and connect with community members who are certified to assist in accessing and navigating the health insurance marketplace.

Protect our Care Montana is an organization of Montana leaders focused on educating the public about the impacts and importance of the Affordable Care Act. “Care Force One” will also travel to Butte and Missoula on Friday, October 12. Find out more at https://protectourcarebustour.com/.

####

  • It’s expected that 40 year old Montanans will face paying an extra $1,330 for marketplace coverage in 2019 if efforts to undermine the marketplace continue.
  • Montana expanded Medicaid under the ACA and the 96,000 Montanans who have gained coverage because of this program would find their care at risk if the law were repealed.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to Montana and 26,000 Montananscould lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • 49,000 Montanans who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if the current lawsuit continues; and protections for 426,000 Montanans living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.

Protect Our Care Launches 130 Million Strong Month of Action

Washington, D.C. – The Protect Our Care coalition today launches “130 Million Strong Month of Action,” a campaign to warn Americans about escalating Republican attacks on Affordable Care Act-guaranteed protections for over 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. As the Trump Department of Justice asks the courts to take away these protections, the campaign will leverage earned and paid media as well as grassroots advocacy to highlight the true cost of letting insurance companies bring back discrimination.

“There are over 130 million Americans out there with pre-existing conditions who deserve to know that Republicans are trying to let insurance companies take away their coverage,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse. “The Trump Department of Justice just declared war on people who have a history of diabetes, asthma, or cancer. This month, our coalition of health care advocates will be conducting an aggressive information campaign to make sure people know what’s at stake.”

The campaign launches this morning with a new digital ad targeted to 13 states: Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Watch Digital Ad

Protect Our Care is also rolling out 51 fact sheets this morning highlighting the impact residents would face in each state if the Trump Administration wins its case and takes away pre-existing condition protections, and dozens of events are set to take place across the country between now and Independence Day.

Koch Brothers Launch Latest Salvo in the Republican War on Montanans’ Care

Washington, D.C. – In response to Americans for Prosperity releasing a new, misleading ad against Sen. Jon Tester, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“The Koch Brothers and their Republican allies in Congress have been waging a war on health care that will raise our costs, take away coverage, and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Thanks to the Republican tax bill, pharmaceutical and insurance companies are getting billions of dollars in tax breaks while many Montana families will see their premiums go up an average of $2,100 this fall, and 46,000 Montanans could lose coverage altogether. Enough is enough: it’s time for the Koch brothers and their allies in Congress to stop their war on Montanans’ health care.”

BACKGROUND

INSURANCE COMPANIES AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES GET BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM THE REPUBLICAN TAX BILL

The Republican Tax Bill Is A $10 Billion Giveaway For Insurance Companies.  An Axios analysis found 21 health insurance companies collectively expected to gain $10 billion in tax breaks in 2018 alone. Most of the money is being used for buybacks, dividends, acquisitions and paying down debt — with just a sliver for one-time employee bonuses, research and internal investments. [Axios, 3/5/18]

The Republican Tax Bill Is A $50 Billion Windfall For Pharmaceutical Companies.  According to an Axios analysis, the pharmaceutical industry is using a large portion of its savings from the Republican corporate tax break to boost its stock prices. Nine drug companies are spending a combined $50 billion on new share buyback programs, far outstripping investments in employees or drug research and development. [Axios, 2/22/18]

THE REPUBLICAN TAX BILL WILL RAISE PREMIUMS AND TAKE COVERAGE AWAY FROM MONTANANS

The Republican Tax Bill Means Higher Costs, Especially for Older Montanans. A Center for American Progress estimate shows that in Montana, family premiums in the marketplace will increase on average by $2,100 in 2019. Older Montanans would not be spared. The AARP estimates a 64-year-old in Montana will have to pay $1,551 more in premiums because of health repeal, essentially an age tax for people over 50. [Center for American Progress, 11/16/17, AARP, 11/21/17]

The GOP Tax Bill Will Cost 46,000 Montanans Their Health Coverage. As a result of the tax bill, an estimated 46,000 Montanans will lose coverage by 2025. [Center for American Progress, 11/16/17]

REPUBLICAN SABOTAGE WILL RAISE THE COST OF HEALTH CARE FOR MONTANANS

Urban Institute: Premiums For Montanans Will Increase An Average Of 19.8 Percent Next Year. An Urban Institute study found that, “the actions President Trump and Congressional Republicans have taken to sabotage the health care markets will artificially inflate individual insurance premiums by an average of 19.8 percent in Montana for 2019.” [Urban Institute, 3/14/18]

Research Roundup: Studies Confirm That ACA, Medicaid Improve Health Care Access and Outcomes, Boost Local Economies

Over the past month, five studies looking at the impact of the Affordable Care Act have been released: three analyzing Medicaid expansion, and two analyzing marketplace coverage. These studies covered a broad scope of health care-related outcomes, from treatment for chronic conditions to jobs created in a local economy, and each came to the same conclusion: the ACA is providing clear benefits for Americans.

Here’s a look at what these five studies found:

Louisiana Department of Health: Medicaid Expansion and the Louisiana Economy

A report released in April by the Louisiana Department of Health analyzed Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion, finding that expansion not only boosted the state’s economy but also save the state money, leaving Gov. John Bel Edwards to conclude, “It is costing us less to have more people insured.” Among its key takeaways:

  • The state saw a $1.85 billion economic impact due to Medicaid expansion, with Louisianans seeing $1.12 billion in personal earnings and local tax receipts totaling $746 million, with the economic impact “spread throughout the state.”
  • Louisiana saw 19,000 new jobs created under Medicaid expansion, making clear that “such healthcare can also positive affect the labor participation rate.”
  • Over 545,000 Louisianans have benefited under Medicaid expansion, including more than 180,000 Louisianans who visited a doctor and received new preventive services, more than 35,000 Louisianans who received breast cancer screenings, and more than 48,000 Louisianans who received mental health services.
  • Medicaid expansion saved the state $317 million, leading Gov. John Bel Edwards to note, “It was the easiest big decision I’ll ever make as governor.”
  • As the study’s authors concluded, the economic impact will continue “as long as the state maintains the program and as long as no major changes are instituted by the federal government, either through acts of the U.S. Congress or regulatory decisions made by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”

University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research: Medicaid Expansion Has Boosted State’s Economy, Added Jobs, Improved Health Care

A March study from the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research examined the effects of Montana’s Medicaid expansion, and found that it has not only provided insurance to more than 94,000 Montanans, but had a major impact on the state’s economy. Among its key takeaways:

  • Montana’s Medicaid expansion was responsible for creating 5,000 new jobs,  in the health care, retail, construction and hospitality industries, and $280 million of personal income.
  • Labor-force participation has increased six points, from 58 to 64 percent, among those eligible for Medicaid expansion, Montanans aged 18-64 and earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level .
  • Medicaid expansion has saved $40 million in Medicaid benefits, in addition to providing $902 million worth of health care services. “The savings are enough to pay for the costs,” said Bryce Ward of the BBER.
  • Medicaid expansion accounts for an estimated $564 million per year on health care spending, with nearly 70% of this being “new money,” or an economic boost spurred only by expansion.
  • As Sheila Hogan, director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services said, “Medicaid expansion is doing what it’s supposed to do, help Montanans live healthier lives and save the state money.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans: The Value of Medicaid: Providing Access to Care and Preventive Health Services

An April study from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) compared data from Americans covered by Medicaid, private insurance, and not covered, analyzing the access to care received under each, finding that Medicaid tremendously improves access to care. Among its key takeaways:

  • Adults (five-times as likely) and children (four-times) were significantly more likely to have access to “a usual source of care” than those without insurance.
  • Adults (four-times as likely) and children (two-to-three times) were significantly more likely to obtain preventative care than those without insurance.
  • Those enrolled in Medicaid had access to care at levels comparable to private coverage, and far better access to care than those without insurance.
  • As the authors concluded, “The findings from this study refute outdated, less rigorous studies that question the value of Medicaid, and add to the growing number of recent studies that demonstrate the value of having insurance coverage generally, and Medicaid more specifically.”

Health Affairs: Effects Of The ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplaces On The Previously Uninsured: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis

An April study published in Health Affairs, led by Harvard Medical School clinical fellow Anna Lise Goldman, MD, compared adults who had gone through periods without insurance to those with continuous coverage. It found that the ACA improved health care outcomes, especially among low-income adults. Among its key takeaways:

  • The introduction of the ACA saw the uninsured rate decrease by 11 percentage points and the number of of individuals unable to access necessary care fall by two points, as well as more outpatient visits, more prescriptions being filled, and a higher probability of a hospital stay.
  • Lower-income individuals, those with incomes of between 138 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level, saw even larger increases in the number of outpatient visits and prescriptions being filled.
  • As the study’s authors concluded, “The ACA led to a significant decline in the uninsurance rate, decreased barriers to medical care, increased the use of outpatient services and prescription drugs, and increased diagnosis of hypertension, compared to a control group with stable employer-sponsored insurance.”

Health Affairs: The Affordable Care Act’s Marketplaces Expanded Insurance Coverage For Adults With Chronic Health Conditions

An April study published in Health Affairs examined the role the ACA marketplace had on non-elderly adults with chronic conditions, finding that those far more Americans with chronic conditions obtained coverage through the marketplace. Among its key takeaways:

  • During the time period analyzed, 45% of marketplace enrollees aged 18-64 were treated for chronic conditions, compared to just 35% of those not enrolled in marketplace coverage and 38% of adults with employer insurance.
  • Those enrolled in marketplace coverage obtained more service use than those without it, underscoring the long-term benefits of the ACA.