More than $500K already behind pro-Medicaid expansion initiative effort

HELENA – A coalition of health-care and other groups already has spent or raised more than $500,000 toward qualifying a ballot measure that would extend Medicaid expansion in Montana and raise tobacco taxes to help pay for it.

The money – at least one-third of which has come from Montana hospitals – is behind Initiative 185, which would raise the state tax on cigarettes by $2 a pack.

The measure also would extend Montana’s Medicaid expansion, which provides government-funded health coverage to 94,000 low-income adults and is set to expire in July 2019.

Medicaid expansion, funded largely by the federal government, is paying for hundreds of millions of dollars in medical bills in the state.

The state will have to pay for 10 percent of the program’s cost by 2020.