Montana health officials say 5,500 sign up for Medicaid in first week of expansion

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HELENA, Montana — Montana officials say about 5,500 people have signed up for Medicaid in the first week of expanded eligibility to the working poor.

Department of Health and Human Services Director Richard Opper announced the results of the initial wave of enrollments during a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

An estimated 70,000 people are eligible now that Medicaid has been expanded to people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — $33,000 for a family of four.

Coverage begins Jan. 1 but enrollment goes on year-round.

Federal officials approved Montana's plan on Nov. 1, making the state the 30th to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health-reform law.

The Montana plan requires beneficiaries to pay premiums and co-payments.

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