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Montana News

Nov 11, 2013 9:35 AM by Josh Meny - MTN News

Groups say Medicaid expansion would help MT vets

MISSOULA - Partnership for Montana's Future - a coalition of over 40 non-profit and advocacy groups from across the state - is taking to the airwaves to raise awareness about Medicaid expansion, and how it affects veterans.

A video ad hit the airwaves Sunday in hopes of raising awareness of the thousands of veterans in Montana who go uninsured each year.

"We are not taking care of our vets, and we could easily be. It isn't hard to do, we just have to accept Medicaid expansion," explained Montana Budget and Policy Center Research Director Sarah Wilhelm.

Montana had the opportunity to accept federal dollars to expand the state's Medicaid program during the last legislative session, but the proposal was ultimately rejected.

"Currently in Montana we have 9,000 veterans who have no insurance at all, and 5,000 veterans who only have VA healthcare," Wilhelm said.

She adds that this would help vets across the state. "There's a lot of really good reason to do it; for the economy, for the help of Montanans and we would say to support our service members and show them that we really appreciate the service that they provided. "

Vietnam veteran Todd Brendoff says the care is necessary and hopes something can be done.

"I have seen some very severe cases of PTSD and things like that, that haven't where guys have really been hurting and needed help and didn't get everything that they need. "

Wilhelm says the only way to change this is decision is for Governor Steve Bullock to call a special session.So for now - the hope is to just spread the word.

Partnership for Montana's Future says that Montana has the highest percentage of uninsured veterans in the nation. But opponents say that there isn't funding available to expand Medicaid in Montana.

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