Dec. 21, 2001
Contact: Lucas Hamilton
Low-income health insurance program gets $1.25 million in federal funds
State Auditor John Morrison announced today that Congress has appropriated $1.25 million for a low-income health insurance pilot project. The program, run by the Montana Comprehensive Health Association, is for high-risk Montanans who haven't been able to buy health insurance because of a health condition. It will allow the MCHA to reduce insurance premiums using a sliding scale.
"This is the first step the state has taken to help Montana's low-income adults get health insurance," said Morrison, Montana's Insurance Commissioner. "If this program is successful, we hope to get continued funding for low-income Montanans who desperately need health insurance."
U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus fought hard in Congress to get the MCHA money.
"I'm glad we secured this funding for Montanans so they can afford insurance and
gain access to quality health care," Baucus said. "This is right for Montanans, and will help them get the health care they need."
MCHA provides comprehensive health insurance to individuals denied coverage by private carriers. High-risk individuals and those suffering from serious health problems are among those who would benefit from this program.
Anyone whose income is below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, who meets the program's eligibility standards, would qualify for the reduced premiums. Eligibility criteria have yet to be ironed out. The association will be allowed to limit enrollment in the program based on available resources and establish a waiting list for people interested in participating.
Morrison proposed legislation with the support of the MCHA board of directors to establish the sliding scale. The 2001 Montana Legislature passed the legislation but did not provide funding. Morrison and the MCHA turned to Congress for help.
"We are grateful to Senator Conrad Burns, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who was instrumental in helping us obtain this funding," Morrison said. "Senator Baucus, too, was critical to the success."
U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg also supported the measure.
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