Federal officials Monday approved Montana’s application to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, the AP reported.
“This agreement will bring much needed access to health care coverage to more than 70,000 low-income Montanans,” said Health and Human Service Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. “The administration looks forward to working with other states to expand Medicaid by designing programs that meet state’s needs while providing needed services to residents and significant economic benefits to states.”
According to the AP, an estimated 45,700 people would actually participate in the expanded program, as predicted by legislative analysts.
Expanding Medicaid had been an uphill battle in the conservative Big Sky state. At one point, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock (pictured above) and GOP state legislators had to resort to secret meetings to iron out a deal. After passing the expansion legislation — known as the HELP Act — earlier this year, Montana requested two waivers seeking exemptions from the federal government’s Medicaid expansion requirements.
The announcement of Montana’s approval comes as the federal government kicks off this year’s open enrollment period for the 2016 coverage year.