Missoula County applies for grant to study health insurance needs, solutions

Missoula County has applied for a $25,000 grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation for a study that could eventually help provide health insurance to county residents who have no coverage. 

“The money would be used to help us understand, who are the folks falling through the cracks?” said County Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “Some people don’t qualify for federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, and do not receive insurance from their employers. It’s a pretty thin band of folks. But we’d like to look into how many people are in that situation, what the demographics are, who they are, and how we might be able to help.”

Slotnick emphasized that no tax dollars are being applied to this effort.

“Once we do a study and better understand the situation and needs, then we can go from there and examine creative, innovative ways to find coverage for people who need it using existing and potential programs, partnerships and resources,” he said. 

Slotnick learned about the grant while attending a recent Healthcare Foundation-sponsored trip to Denver to learn about supportive housing issues, where he met with the foundation’s chief operating officer, Ted Madden. 

“We talked about innovate ways we might be able to approach this issue,” Slotnick said. 

The Montana Healthcare Foundation is a Bozeman-based private foundation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all Montanans. It was created as a result of the 2013 sale of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana.

In accordance with state law, the assets from the sale were transferred to a charitable trust to be managed for public benefit. Income from trust investments serve as a “permanent, stable, and reliable” resource for improving health in the state.

“This has potential to help a lot of people,” said Commission Chairman David Strohmaier. “People often ask me, ‘What does county government do?’ Well, this is exactly what we do – we look for creative solutions to issues and help people.”