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Montana's Medicaid expansion work requirement that state lawmakers added in order to compromise with opponents to keep the program alive isn't taking effect in January, as planned.

The Montana legislature passed a bill last year that would require people getting coverage under the Medicaid expansion to work or participate in a community engagement for at least 80 hours a month. Under the bill, the work requirements were to start on January 1. 

The bill that passed earlier this year calls for able-bodied people receiving coverage under Medicaid expansion to work or participate in community engagement activities for at least 80 hours a month. Those requirements were to begin with the new year, under the legislation.

Health officials said it could take several months, possibly up to a year for the federal government to weigh in. 

When that happens, Montana Health officials will then get some time to make changes to the Medicaid program. 

The big question many Medicaid recipients are asking is whether they will lose their coverage if they don't meet the work requirements. 

The Co-Director at the Montana Budget and Policy Center Health O'Loughlin said no. 

If those benefits do change, everyone will be given a phone call and mailed a letter telling them about the changes. 

Right now, thousands of Medicaid recipients are waiting. 

"If folks are concerned about their coverage they should know that if they're eligible right now they should continue to be eligible in January," O'Loughlin said. 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in seven adults and 2 in 5 children in Montana are covered by Medicaid. 73 percent of adults enrolled are employed and working. 

About 26 percent of all Medicaid recipients could be subject to the work requirement.

A federal judge has blocked similar work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire. 

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