Montana's Senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus and Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen today released the latest data showing thousands of Montana seniors, young-adults and families are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. This Friday, March 23, marks two years since the landmark provisions to reduce costs and protect Montana consumers were signed into law. The independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has consistently projected the Affordable Care Act to reduce federal deficits by $143 billion dollars by 2020 and save more than $1 trillion in the decade that follows.
"Thousands of Montana seniors and families are breathing easier with more money in their pockets and more control over their health care," Baucus said. "Still we've got a lot more work ahead of us to continue putting all cost-saving measures and protections in place to reduce our debt. And, we've got to do more to help all Montanans understand what's in the law so even more folks can take advantage."
"For a law that isn't even fully implemented, the Affordable Care Act has made a big difference in protecting Montana consumers," Lindeen said. "Already, hundreds of Montanans who were uninsurable have obtained the coverage and life-saving care they desperately needed. Tens of thousands more will never have to worry about running into a coverage cap for their asthma, diabetes, or other chronic conditions. In the coming months, all Montanans will benefit from better transparency and accountability in health insurance, all thanks to the Affordable Care Act."
The Affordable Care Act in Montana
In addition to cutting more than $1 trillion dollars from the federal debt, the Affordable Care Act is providing new protections and savings to thousands of Montanans.
Thanks to the new health care law, 11,500 seniors with Medicare in Montana received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. In 2011, 10,415 seniors with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount resulted in an average savings of $615 per person, and a total savings of $6,409,940 in Montana. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole.
In 2011, 115,065 seniors with Medicare in Montana received free preventive services - such as mammograms and other cancer screenings - or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. And 54 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 166,000 in Montana.
Montana young people:
As of June 2011, 8,389 young adults in Montana gained insurance coverage as a result of the new health care law allowing them to stay on the parent's plans until age 26.
Increasing support for community health centers:
The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to community health centers in all 50 states, including the 83 existing community health centers in Montana. Health centers in Montana have received $9.6 million to create new health center sites in medically underserved areas, enable health centers to increase the number of patients served, expand preventive and primary health care services, and support major construction and renovation projects.
Caring for Libby asbestos victims:
$2.5 million to provide screening, health education, and outreach services for asbestos victims in Libby and Lincoln County.
Baucus secured health care coverage for Libby under the Affordable Care Act in three steps. First, in Spring 2010, as part of Baucus' provisions, victims of asbestos exposure in Lincoln County began getting care under Medicare. In March of 2011, Baucus announced a grant program to help Lincoln County health care providers screen for asbestos-related diseases. And in June 2011, Baucus announced additional benefits to cover asbestos-related screenings and treatments not traditionally covered under Medicare.
Holding Insurance companies accountable for customer dollars:
Under the new health care law, the 80/20 rule ensures that insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don't, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 277,000 Montana residents with private insurance coverage will receive greater value for their premium dollars.
Scrutinizing unreasonable premium increases:
In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. Montana has received $1 million under the new law to help fight unreasonable premium increases.
Removing lifetime limits on health benefits:
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits - freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of the lifetime limits on their plans. Already, 319,000 residents, including 116,000 women and 81,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.
Creating new coverage options for individuals with pre-existing conditions:
As of the end of 2011, 280 previously uninsured residents of Montana who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law. To learn more about the plan available in Montana, check here.
Supporting Montana's work on Affordable Insurance Exchanges:
$1 million in Planning Grants: This grant provides Montana the resources needed to conduct the research and planning necessary to build a better health insurance marketplace and determine how its exchange will be operated and governed. Learn how the funds are being used in Montana here.
Preventing illness and promoting health:
Since 2010, Montana has received $3.9 million in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. This new fund was created to support effective policies in Montana, its communities, and nationwide so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.
Strengthening partnerships with Montana:
The law gives states support for their work to build the health care workforce, crack down on fraud, and support public health. So far, Montana has received more than $31.6 million from the Affordable Care Act. Examples of Affordable Care Act grants not outlined above to Montana include:
$72,000 to support the National Health Service Corps, by assisting Montana in repaying educational loans of health care professionals in return for their practice in health professional shortage areas.
$5.4 million for health professions workforce demonstration projects, which will help low income individuals receive training and enter health care professions that face shortages.
$150,000 to support teaching health centers, creating new residency slots in community health centers.
$500,000 for school-based health centers, to help clinics expand and provide more health care services such as screenings to students.
$100,000 to support outreach to eligible Medicare beneficiaries about their benefits.
$191,000 for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers, organizations run by and for families with children with special health care needs.
$100,000 for disease demonstration projects, to test approaches that may encourage behavior modification among Medicaid beneficiaries and determine solutions.
$5.1 million for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs. These programs bring health professionals to meet with at-risk families in their homes and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child's health, development, and ability to learn - such as health care, early education, parenting skills, child abuse prevention, and nutrition.
$2 million from the Pregnancy Assistance Fund to provide pregnant and parenting teens and women with a seamless network of supportive services to help them complete high school or postsecondary degrees and gain access to health care, child care, family housing, and other critical support