Study Finds Montana’s Medicaid Expansion Program Supports the Economy, Adds Jobs

Annually, the program brings $650 million into the economy and adds 6,000 jobs.

Bozeman and Missoula, Mont. (February 2, 2021) – According to a new report released today, Montana’s Medicaid expansion introduces $650 million into the economy each year, supporting 6,000 new jobs and $400 million in personal income. Although Montana pays for a share of this coverage, the program’s savings and the revenue generated by increased economic activity have a net positive effect on the state budget. The report was produced by economist Bryce Ward of ABMJ Consulting and commissioned by Headwaters Foundation and the Montana Healthcare Foundation.

“Medicaid expansion has been a success in Montana. One in ten Montanans can now access care, no rural hospital has closed in Montana since the Medicaid expansion, and millions of additional dollars are flowing through the Montana economy because of the expansion. This study signals the value and importance of the Medicaid expansion to our state,” said Headwaters Foundation CEO Brenda Solorzano.

“Medicaid expansion continues to pay for itself through a combination of savings and increased state revenues. In 2020, the program played a key role in helping Montana families and the state’s health care system weather the coronavirus pandemic,” said Montana Healthcare Foundation CEO Dr. Aaron Wernham.

Key findings in the report include:

  • An increase in workforce participation: The number of Montanans with low incomes who joined the workforce increased by more than 2% through 2019. This increase may be due to the improved health of Medicaid expansion enrollees and the HELP-Link program. HELP-Link is a voluntary employment assistance program that connects up to 9,000 Medicaid expansion enrollees each year to workforce training, employment services, and local job openings.
  • A positive impact on the state budget: When the revenue associated with the increased economic activity is added to the savings created by Medicaid expansion, the net fiscal benefit to the state is positive, covering between 110% and 159% of the state’s share of the cost of the program.
  • An effective response to the coronavirus pandemic: Medicaid expansion is cushioning the pandemic’s economic blow for families with low incomes. Over 12,000 Montanans have enrolled in Medicaid expansion since the start of the pandemic. National research shows that Medicaid coverage reduces the number of bills that go into collections, improves credit scores, improves food security, reduces the odds of eviction, and reduces poverty.