MTPR

Affordable Care Act

Montana Lawmakers Push Bills On Health Costs, Transparency

Apr 17, 2017
Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Congress may be undecided about former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, but Montana lawmakers are pushing through legislation they believe will bring down health care costs and increase price transparency regardless of what happens in Washington.

A half-dozen measures were still alive as the 2017 legislative session enters its final days. They include authorizing a high-risk insurance pool, allowing out-of-state insurers to sell policies in Montana, better informing patients about health care prices and giving tax credits to small companies that offer high-deductible plans to their employees.

Montana’s top insurance regulator is promoting a new healthcare coverage option that he doesn’t regulate.

It's called Medi-Share, and is run by a Christian non-profit in Florida that markets it as a ministry where members pay into accounts that are used to pay medical bills for other members.

Health coverage in Montana.
Montana Commissioner of Securities & Insurance

In Montana, more than 47,000 people qualify for tax credits that lower their monthly health insurance premiums. Those tax credits were created by the Affordable Care Act, what some people call Obamacare. Many of those people would see big changes if the Republican healthcare bill in the works in Congress now becomes law.

Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson and Rob Saldin review the legislature's busy week as the state budget heads out of the House and on to the Senate. They also discuss how the debate over healthcare and the Trump administration's proposed federal budget is affecting Montana's upcoming special election in May.

Sen. Tester hears constituent concerns at Helena town hall, March 17, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester was in Helena Friday afternoon for an in-person town hall. You can listen to the full meeting at the bottom of this post.

Tester spoke for a little over an hour to a friendly crowd of 200 people at Helena Middle School. Town halls nationwide have become confrontational events for many members of Congress. Recently, Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines has taken heat for not meeting face-to-face with constituents back home. He hosted a so-called “tele-town hall” two weeks ago, which he says allows him to interact with more Montanans because people don't have to travel to participate in them.

Rob Quist speaks during a campaign event in Whitefish, MT March 13, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

Candidates for the upcoming special election to fill Montana’s lone house seat have hit the campaign trail. Democratic candidate Rob Quist held a campaign kickoff in Whitefish Monday night.

Casey’s Bar and Grill in downtown Whitefish is usually a weekend night club, but on Monday night, more than 100 people fill the dance floor to hear hometown candidate Quist at an event hosted by the Flathead Democratic Party.

Congressional Healthcare Bill Response Tracker

Mar 13, 2017

Loading...

Montana Standard Editor David McCumber.
Mike Albans

In 2009 Montana Senator Max Baucus helped write special provisions into the Affordable Care act that ensure extra help and healthcare are available to residents in Libby who are suffering from asbestos-related disease. But some Montana residents are concerned that if Obamacare is repealed and replaced, these provisions will disappear.

MTPR's Nora Saks speaks with David McCumber, editor of the Montana Standard to learn more.

A new report says Montana stands to lose more than $284 million in healthcare funding if Congress repeals the Medicaid expansion that’s part of the Affordable Care Act.
Courtesy

A new report says Montana stands to lose more than $284 million in healthcare funding if Congress repeals the Medicaid expansion that’s part of the Affordable Care Act.

The "Capitol Talk" crew reviews the first half of the legislative session and previews the budget and infrastructure debates still to come. They also look at the front-runners for each party's nomination to fill the state's vacant U.S. House Seat, and speculate about Tim Fox's political ambitions. Join Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson, and Rob Saldin for "Capitol Talk."

Pages