April 15, 2009                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Lindeen Applauds Insure Montana Passage


      Tax Credits for Small Business Health Insurance will Bolster Montana Economy and Finances of Working Families
      
      As the tax filing deadline looms, the Montana state senate has passed a bill that would help small businesses save thousands on the cost of health insurance.
      
      The Senate advanced a proposal by State Auditor Monica Lindeen that would help some 600 small businesses in Montana to provide affordable health insurance to their employees and their families. The businesses are on a waiting list to participate in Insure Montana, the award-winning, nationally recognized small business health insurance program launched by the State Auditor, the Governor, and the legislature in 2005.
      
      “In these uncertain economic times, it’s important that we do everything we can to help Montana’s economy recover and grow,” said Lindeen. “Affordable health care benefits are critical for ensuring small businesses remain competitive and retain experienced staff.”
      
      Lindeen says small businesses in the program will save an average of $4,800 in health insurance costs over the next two years. An employee who works for one of these businesses would save more than $3,000 on average.
      
      “A strong and expanding small business base signals to the outside world that Montana is a good place to do business,” said Lindeen. “The ability to provide health insurance is much needed security in the high-risk world of small-business management.”
      
      House Bill 258, requests an appropriation of $3 million annually from the Health and Medicaid Initiatives special revenue account which was set aside by the voters in I-149. The bill is sponsored by Representative Bill McChesney (D-Miles City) and Senator Cliff Larson (D-Missoula) at the request of State Auditor Monica Lindeen.
      
      The bill passed the senate with a bi-partisan 36-14 vote and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.