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HELENA – The Bullock administration is looking to hire a coordinator for expanding Montana’s Medicaid program – even though expansion hasn’t yet been approved by the Legislature.

The state Department of Public Health and Human Services last week advertised a job opening for an “Affordable Care Act program specialist,” whose duties would be to research, develop and implement “a program to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.”

The ACA is the federal health-care overhaul passed by Congress in 2010. It offers federal funding to states that expand Medicaid to cover all citizens earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $16,100 for a single person.

Medicaid is the state-federal program that pays medical bills for the poor.

The Republican-controlled 2013 Legislature refused to approve Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s proposal to expand Medicaid to cover an additional 70,000 Montanans.

In recent months, a coalition including health-care and business lobbies, some legislative leaders and Bullock’s office has been discussing possible Medicaid-expansion proposals that could be considered by the 2015 Legislature, which convenes next January.

The job-posting for a coordinator of an expansion closes next Tuesday.

Mike Wessler, a spokesman for the governor, said Thursday the administration believes Medicaid expansion eventually will be approved and wants to be ready to implement it.

“At some point, Montana will expand coverage for the working poor, because we recognize that turning down nearly $2 million a day (in federal funding) is irresponsible,” he said.

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