BUTTE – Governor Bullock came to Butte Thursday armed with a University of Montana study that he says shows Medicaid expansion in Montana is making progress.
“Five thousand jobs, the state saving $40 million, $280 million of new personal income in the state and that dollar goes circulating around to our Main Street businesses,” Bullock said.
The governor appeared on a panel of local medical professionals and patients at the Southwest Montana Community Health Center to praise the 2015 HELP Act. Community Health officials say the clinic serves 4,500 patients and Medicaid is important to keep them healthy.
“Many people feel they don’t need to come in until they get really, really sick because they can’t afford it. Now they can do preventative, now they can take care of themselves and actually be stronger and healthier,” said Chief Executive Officer of Community Health Jennifer Malone.
The panel noted that Medicaid does more than just help people with routine medical exams. One Butte man testified that he had been in the Department of Corrections systems his entire life due to a severe methamphetamine addiction. But he said Medicaid is helping him turn his life around.
“I was able to use my Medicaid to get some mental health counseling and then work on some issues outside of the Department of Corrections, which is where I spent most of my life and I’ve been able to put together out here and I would have never been able to do it without Medicaid,” said Medicaid recipient Shane Park.
The governor believes the economic benefits complement the benefits the program has on individuals.
“It has changed individuals lives, some cases saved individual’s lives. These are friend and neighbors, folks who are working darn hard and ought to be able to have healthcare as they’re working hard to lift themselves further up that economic ladder,” the governor said.
The governor won’t have long to cheerlead for this program, which sunsets next year.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News