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Tobacco taxes fund Montana's health insurance tax credits, but demand for the program is exceeds the available funding.
In 2005, the state began its Insure Montana initiative, which allowed businesses with between two and nine employees to buy health coverage through a small business purchasing pool. If businesses of that size are already providing health insurance to employees, they can instead receive tax credits of $100 per employee per month. If the average age of employees is 45 or older, the tax credit for an employee increases to $125.00.

Right now, both the tax credit and purchasing pool programs are at full capacity because of limited funding. Small businesses applying for either are being put on a waiting list. The program is entirely funded through increases in Montana's tobacco tax, but that's not enough. The state auditor's office has requested additional funding - about $12.5 million for the next two years to cover those waiting and new applicants. State legislators will make a decision about that request in the new legislative session that begins this month.

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LAST UPDATE: Jan 28 2009 | 9:53 AM ET
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