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The Latest: Committee endorses heavily amended Medicaid bill

March 27, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on a bill to continue Montana’s Medicaid expansion program (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

A House committee has endorsed a heavily amended bill to continue Montana’s Medicaid expansion program.

Republican Rep. Ed Buttrey said the amendments he proposed Tuesday addressed many concerns expressed by those who testified against his bill during a daylong hearing on March 16. Some conservative Republicans argued he made so many changes they should consider holding another hearing.

The bill passed 11-8 and goes to the full House. Democrats said they’d support the bill, but noted they were compromising on the work requirement. The current expansion program has a voluntary workforce training component.

Buttrey said his amended bill meets the requirements he sought, including work or community engagement, job training, generating additional revenue to pay for the program, improving an asset test and increasing premiums for people on the program for more than two years.

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11 a.m.

Republican Rep. Ed Buttrey is proposing changes to his Medicaid expansion bill to address concerns that its requirements could cause tens of thousands of Montanans to lose their coverage.

Legislative lawyers also question the constitutionality of a provision requiring Hutterite colonies to pay the state’s share of Medicaid expansion coverage for their members.

A House committee is expected to vote Tuesday on Buttrey’s bill and on a competing measure by Democratic Rep. Mary Caferro to keep the health care program that covers 96,000 low-income Montana residents largely intact.

Buttrey proposes to amend his bill to require an audit if more than 5 percent of participants are suspended from the program for not meeting the work or community engagement requirements.

If more than 10 percent are wrongly suspended, further suspensions would end until the next legislative session.