Montana News

For Coverage Starting Jan. 1
4:38 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Enrollment Deadline For Affordable Care Act Approaching

Partnership Health Center, Missoula, MT
Credit Courtesy Partnership Health Center

An important deadline is fast approaching for those who want an Affordable Care Act health plan that takes effect on January first. Applicants must be enrolled by the end of business on Monday, December 15.

Those who've already signed up, but want to make last minute changes, face the same deadline.

Partnership Health Center's Sandra Mytty says she and her staff have helped lots of people in the Missoula area select policies.

"We're actually doing really well. Since we started we've helped over 350 people since November 15 and we're still going."

Read more
BCBS Settlement
5:14 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

BCBS To Pay $1 Million To Settle Consumer Complaints

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana is paying $1 million to the state to settle more than three hundred consumer complaints.

State Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen says the complaints mostly came from people who bought policies on the new health insurance exchange last year. Lindeen says every insurance company had problems with the rollout, but the problems with Blue Cross-Blue Shield were extreme.

Read more
SRS Funding
4:34 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Rural Counties Worry About Losing Federal Schools, Roads Funding

Credit Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Officials in 33 Montana counties are keenly aware of what's not in the trillion dollar federal spending bill to keep government open: an extension of the Secure Rural Schools, or SRS program, that Montana counties have relied on since 2000.

SRS funding is stripped out of the spending bill the House has been considering this week.

The SRS program was helps pay down school bonds and also funds road maintenance projects.

Mineral County Commissioner Laurie Johnston has a blunt assessment of the situation.

Read more
Preschool Grants
5:41 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Montana To Get $10 Million In Grants For Preschools

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau
Credit MT OPI

Montana is receiving $10 million in federal grants to set up preschool programs and train teachers in sixteen communities around the state. The money would provide preschool programs for 4-year-olds from low and moderate-income families. Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau says this grant is separate from the Governor’s proposal to fund a new statewide preschool program.
 

Read more
Coal & Climate Change
4:55 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Crow Nation Opposes President's Climate Plan

Much of the coal from the Crow Reservation gets shipped to power plants in other states.

Southeastern Montana's Crow Nation says President Obama’s pending climate plan would wreak economic havoc on the already-impoverished reservation.

Under the administration's proposal, states must reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is going up to bat for the Crow Nation. Fox says he's troubled by how the President is unilaterally guiding this climate proposal.

Read more
Senator John Walsh
4:55 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

In Final Senate Speech, Walsh Highlights Veteran Suicides, Money In Politics, Public Lands

Senator John Walsh used his last speech on the Senate floor this morning to talk about money in politics, protecting Montana public lands and veteran suicides.

In August, Walsh dropped out of his Senate reelection bid amid a plagiarism scandal.

Walsh said 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

"If this country were losing 22 service members a day on the battlefield, Americans would be in the streets protesting."

On Tuesday, the House unanimously passed a bill to reduce vet suicides, it’s now before the Senate.

Read more
Columbia Falls Smelter Clean Up
4:46 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Columbia Falls Aluminum Smelter Cleanup Hits A Snag

Credit Courtesy EPA

Efforts to clean up the shuttered Columbia Falls Aluminum Company smelter have hit a snag.

State and federal officials will brief the residents in Columbia Falls Thursday.

Montana’s Department of Environmental quality wanted to speed up the process that could qualify the closed smelter for federal “Superfund” cleanup money.

Before state inspectors could assess the problem in detail, the company would have to sign a consent decree, according to DEQ attorney William Kirley.

Read more
Safe, but some risk remains
10:21 am
Wed December 10, 2014

EPA Presents Health Risk Assessment In Libby

EPA Toxicologist Deborah McKean presents data at a public meeting in Libby Tuesday evening.
Credit Eric Whitney

In Libby Tuesday, about 30 people came to hear toxicologists from the Environmental Protection Agency explain a health risk assessment released Monday.

Many locals who've followed the EPA's studies closely were already confident that there's now little health risk from living in Libby. Agency toxicologist Deborah McKean confirmed that things are very different following the half-billion dollar clean up of the town started in 2002.

Read more
Flathead Water Compact
5:04 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Supporters Push For Approval Of Flathead Water Compact

Scott Reichner (R) - House District 9

A new group of farmers, ranchers, and tribal members want to convince Montana lawmakers to pass a water compact, like the one they rejected two years ago.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are the only Montana Native Americans who lack a compact with the state governing water rights. In 2013, the legislature rejected it, after objections from property rights groups. The group supporting the new compact includes Scott Reichner of Bigfork, an outgoing state lawmaker who voted against the last version.

Read more
Youth Incarceration
4:38 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Youth Incarceration Costly, Ineffective Says Justice Policy Institute

Credit Justice Policy Institute

A new analysis of youth incarceration says it costs Montana, on average, $175,000 annually to incarcerate a single non-violent youth offender.

The non-profit Justice Policy Institute says some violent young people simply must be incarcerated. However, executive director Marc Schindler says jailing non-violent youth is not only a waste of taxpayer money, it's a largely ineffective response to delinquency.

Read more

Pages