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Medicaid expansion passes Montana Legislature

(Story updated at 6:35 p.m. ET.)

The Montana state Legislature has passed a bill expanding Medicaid eligibility to about 70,000 low-income residents.

The bill approved Saturday heads to Gov. Steve Bullock, who is expected to sign it into law.

Bullock issued a statement applauding passage of the measure, saying he's glad politics could be put aside on behalf of the health of state residents and the economies of rural towns.

Republican Sen. Ed Buttrey of Great Falls brought the measure in March after the governor's proposal to expand Medicaid failed. He calls it a compromise because it would require enrollees to pay premiums and copays for services.

Proponents say the bill will help Montana rural hospitals that are in danger of closing due to the overwhelming cost of uncompensated care.


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