The Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee held a conference call meeting July 31 to take public comment on the application the state is submitting to continue Medicaid expansion with new community engagement requirements and premium charges.

The committee also adopted a work plan for the interim at the meeting.

State law requires the Department of Public Health and Human Services to present requests for certain exemptions from federal Medicaid laws to the interim committee before submitting the applications for approval by the federal government. A waiver of federal law is needed to institute the requirements imposed by House Bill 658, approved by the Legislature earlier this year. 

That bill continues Montana's Medicaid expansion program for childless adults aged 19 to 64 with incomes of up to 138% of the federal poverty level. But it requires that some expansion enrollees either work or participate in other, specified activities -- such as education or community service -- at least 80 hours a month. It also gradually increases the premium payments for certain enrollees from 2% to 4%, depending on how long they remain in the program.

Members of the public were able to offer comment on the waiver application, but the committee is not required by law to take any action on it.

In finalizing their interim work plan, committee members decided to reduce the amount of time they will spend on studies of the child protective services system, from 35 hours to 30 hours. They reserved the five additional hours to hear about any health and human services issues that may emerge during the interim. The committee decided against increasing the time allotted to a study of the DPHHS Senior and Long-Term Care Division. But members noted that the work plan can be adjusted throughout the interim.

At its organizational meeting in June, the committee decided to:

  • focus significant amounts of their time on the House Joint Resolution 50 study of the Senior and Long-Term Care Division and the HJR 48 and HJR 49 studies of various aspects of the child protective services system;
  • limit to a few hours the amount of time they spend on the HJR 32 study of prenatal drug use and a review of adopting the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Other Protective Arrangements Act as proposed in Senate Bill 202 during the legislative session; and
  • allocate time to receiving regular updates from the DPHHS director on agency matters and from the Legislative Fiscal Division on DPHHS-related budget matters.

Members also elected Rep. Eric Moore, R-Miles City, as presiding officer and Sen. Diane Sands,

The Legislative News.