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Planned Parenthood Montana ACA Navigator Cissy Worth was joined by Rhonda Connelly of IHS pharmacy billing and Jamie Running Crane, IHS benefits coordinator for Medicaid and Medicare in the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace and Montana Medicaid Expansion (HELP Act) enrollment event on Monday, Nov. 6.

Photo by John McGill

With a reduced signup period this year, three professionals are out and about in Blackfeet Country helping folks get insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The enrollment period began on Nov. 1 and ends on Dec. 15, and enrollment events are slated to be held throughout the Reservation, giving folks a chance to sign up as well as taking advantage of Medicaid expansion and other helpful programs offered around the topic of health care.

“Signing up for Obamacare means alternative resources for Blackfeet Community Hospital for specialties like urinalysis, because we don’t have them sometimes, but with our funding coming back we can have them,” Jamie Running Crane, IHS benefits coordinator for Medicaid and Medicare said. Indeed, according to the National Indian Health Board, “Since Medicaid expansion, Medicaid revenues at IHS and Tribal facilities have increased by roughly 20 percent. This means that for the first time, IHS patients are able to receive care beyond just ‘life or limb’ services because Medicaid can offset the shortages in purchased/ referred care funding.”

The Medicaid expansion in Montana means people who are Montana residents, ages 19-64 and are not already in or able to get Medicare, will qualify for the expansion. Some items folks need to have on hand to apply include the household size and who needs coverage, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and household monthly income or estimated yearly income. American Indians are eligible for zero premiums and co-pays for members and descendants. The income limits to qualify stand at around 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which would amount to a monthly income of less than $2,829 for a family of four, or a yearly income of less than $33,948.

The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies to households earning 100-400 percent of the federal poverty level to help pay the monthly insurance premium while American Indians and Alaska Natives making 100-300 percent of the federal poverty level who purchase insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace will enjoy zero cost sharing. That means there will be no out-of-pocket costs, co-payments or deductibles for care from an Indian health care provider as well as essential health benefits from any provider covered by insurance. Those American Indians and Alaska Natives who fall below 100 percent or above 300 percent of the federal poverty level may also qualify for limited cost sharing. That means those people would not pay out-of-pocket costs, co-payments or deductibles for care from an Indian health care provider, as well as health benefits from any provider covered by insurance, if you are referred by an Indian health care provider.

When it comes to health care, Cissy Worth, Rhonda Connelly and Jamie Running Crane are here to help sort through the options and programs. Future Enrollment Events are slated to be held Nov. 27-28 during pre-registration at Blackfeet Community College, and at the Leaning Tree Restaurant in Babb from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The experts will next be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Blackfeet Community Hospital on Thursday, Nov. 30, and then from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, at Glacier Family Foods. They’ll be at the Heart Butte Clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, and at the Tribal Offices Lobby from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both on Monday, Dec. 4, and on Monday, Dec. 11. Finally, they will be at Blackfeet Community Hospital from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 13 and 14.

For more information, call Planned Parenthood Montana ACA Navigator Cissy Worth at 217-5375.

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