Montana Officials Secretly Negotiating Medicaid Expansion Deal

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock talks about the apparent defeat of a plan to use federal money to help the working poor buy insurance on Friday, April 19, 2013 in Helena, Mont. (AP Photo/Matt Gouras)
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Medicaid expansion was largely left for dead in Montana, but a new report revealed that the state’s Democratic governor and GOP legislators have been secretly negotiating a deal to adopt the key Obamacare provision.

The Missoulian reported Thursday on the “non-publicized” meetings between Gov. Steve Bullock’s office, Republican lawmakers and private business groups. They’re considering a privatized Medicaid expansion plan, using Medicaid dollars to pay for private insurance, much like Arkansas has done.

The negotiating parties have met with Arkansas officials to discuss their experience with the so-called private option, according to The Missoulian.

Expanding Medicaid, which would cover up to 70,000 low-income Montanans, could happen during a special legislative session this year or in 2015. But those involved in the secret negotiations have acknowledged it isn’t a given that they’ll be able to make it work.

“I think there are a lot of folks trying to come up with a solution,” state Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) a member of the group, told the newspaper. “The goals are cheaper cost, better (medical) service and a healthier population. If we can find a way to do it, we will. If we can’t, we can’t.”

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