This week we released a report, in partnership with Headwaters Foundation, that takes an in-depth look at how Medicaid expansion has impacted Montana’s economy and employment. The report found that each year Medicaid expansion brings in over $600 million into the state. This money ripples through the economy, generating more than $350 million in personal income each year and 6,000 jobs.
The report updates our 2018 report on Medicaid expansion’s economic impact, which looked at the program’s first full year in operation. The new report includes a second full year of data: we hoped the additional information would provide a complete picture of Medicaid expansion’s economic impact over time. We think it does.
Having a good job is linked, in countless studies, to better health. Among the most striking and important findings in this new report is that the number of low-income Montanans working increased again this year by four-to-six percent compared with other states. Montana is the only state in the U.S. with this finding. When we looked for something that might explain this finding, the HELP-Link program created as part of Montana’s Medicaid expansion to help enrollees find jobs and get training to qualify for better-paying jobs was the only obvious difference between Montana and other states. It makes perfect sense: Montana’s unique mix of providing health insurance to allow people to address medical problems that make it difficult to work paired with work assistance appears to be the right combination to help people get back into the workforce.
Finally, the report shows that Montana can afford the program, even when the state begins paying its full 10% share of the costs in 2020. The cost to the state budget is more than offset by cost savings generated by the program coupled with increased tax revenues from the new jobs and in-state spending. In short, Montana’s Medicaid expansion pays for itself by boosting economic activity.