Northern Cheyenne tribal health and President Jace Killsback meet with Montana State Health and Human Services staff to discuss increased Native enrollment In-State Medicaid program.
Photo by Clara Caufield
Montana sees increased Medicaid enrollment among Indians
By Clara Caufield
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
LAME DEER, Mont. –– On November 30, outgoing Director Richard Opper, Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) said that he saved his last official trip for the best purpose – visiting the Northern Cheyenne Reservation to congratulate newly elected tribal president L. Jace Killsback and to report unexpected success with Medicaid Expansion enrollment among Native Americans in Montana. The visit, Opper said was part of the ongoing effort of DHHS to maintain good relationships with the tribes in Montana.
Opper complimented Killsback for helping gain passage of the Medicaid Expansion Act in the last session of the Montana Legislature, a very difficult task.
“Health will always be a priority in my administration,” Killsback responded.
The State officials also provided the tribal Medicaid Revenue reports for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016 followed by a detailed discussion about the process the Tribal Health program uses to be reimbursed for Medicaid-related services. For fiscal years 2015 and 2016 the Tribe received $197,728 in Medicaid revenue for medical services provided to tribal members.
The Medicaid expansion effort in Montana started in January 2016 when the department estimated it could expect to enroll 23,000 new people in the first year, but to date has gained 61,233 new Medicaid clients, of which 14% or 8,299 are Indians. That includes 386 in Rosebud County and 838 in Big Horn County, the two counties comprising the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, although Big Horn County also includes the Crow Reservation. Currently, about 200,000 Montanans are enrolled in the Medicaid program.
“That is an awesome outreach,” Killsback noted.
Mary Dalton, Montana Director of Medicaid agreed.
“Each one is hard to win. There are special challenges in convincing people who can rely on I.H.S to enroll in Medicaid.” She also explained efforts that the MDPHHS is taking to make enrollment and renewed enrollment in the Medicaid program easier for clients.
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(Clara Caufield can be reached at email@example.com)
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