MTPR

Eric Whitney

News Director

Eric Whitney is the news director for Montana Public Radio.

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Todd Lovshin, VP/MT Regional Director, PacificSource, Scott Malloy, Senior Program Officer, Montana Healthcare Foundation, Dr. Monica Berner, Pres., BCBS Montana, Pam Palagi, V.P.of Finance, St. James Healthcare, Butte, testifying Jan. 17, 2017.
Eric Whitney

A legislative committee on health care prices seems split on whether giving consumers more information about health care prices will make much difference.

Last year Montana's Legislature set up a committee to study transparency in health care pricing, concerned that consumers don't have enough information about what health care procedures cost to shop for the best deals. And that means there's little incentive for providers to offer low prices.

San Francisco's KQED is one of several public radio stations trying to help people find the best prices for healthcare.
KQED.org

Shopping for health care is kind of like going to a grocery store where there aren’t any price tags. That jar of spaghetti sauce might cost $4, or maybe $50. But in health care you typically don’t find out prices until you get to the checkout counter. People with one kind of card pay one price, those with another pay a different one, and you may do better or worse if you offer cash.

Last year Montana lawmakers, frustrated by how hard it is to shop for the best deal in healthcare, set up a special committee to find solutions. That committee meets for the first time Wednesday.

Montana state Capitol
Corin Cates-Carney

MTPR is doing a lot of reporting on the more than $170 million worth of cuts to the state budget that are resulting in people losing their jobs across state government and with private contractors, and reduced services to some of Montana’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

Today, we’ve asked our Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney to join us for a big picture look at how the cuts came about, where they’re landing and whether there are any alternatives.

A Coal Mine in the Powder River basin
U.S. Geological Survey

We're getting perspective now on last week's news that the U.S. Interior Department said it had approved a major coal mine expansion in Montana. It caused the stock of the mining company involved to temporarily spike.

Six days later, Interior rescinded its statement, saying no expansion was approved, and the original approval statement was the result of “internal miscommunication.”

Sen. Jon Tester at a meeting of the Missoula Kiwanis club, Jan 02, 2018.
Eric Whitney

At an appearance in Missoula Tuesday, Senator Jon Tester said he’s recently changed his mind about a contentious political issue in Montana.

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