Health care

Senator Jon Tester was in Missoula on Veterans day. He released a report he calls the “State of Veterans in Montana,” that looks at vets’ ability to access Veterans Administration health care. Tester says there are now some more VA clinics in Montana.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services says more than 5,500 people have signed up in a little more than a week since enrollment began.
Josh Burnham

State health officials say they’re surprised at the number of Montanans who are signing up for expanded Medicaid. Jessica Rhoades with the Department of Public Health and Human Services says more than 5,500 people have signed up in a little more than a week since enrollment began.

The hospital in Whitefish has agreed to work more closely with Kalispell Regional Healthcare starting next year. 

The North Valley Hospital Board voted to formalize a relationship with Kalispell Regional on October 27th. Kalispell hospital leaders agreed to an affiliation agreement earlier in the month.

Called the Global Burden of Disease study, the monumental effort to understand how we live and how we die has at its center the brilliant, controversial economist and physician Christopher Murray, who has developed an entirely new way of discovering and comparing the worldwide toll of both the things that kill us and those that diminish the quality of our lives. His goal: to enable all of us to live longer and better lives.

Health officials have recorded twelve cases of flu in six Montana counties: Yellowstone, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Beaverhead, and Broadwater. Karl Milhon with the Department of Public Health says Montana's flu season typically doesn’t begin until October.

Flu vaccine is available at Missoula’s city-county health department.
James Gathany (PD)

The Missoula City-County Health Department has confirmed several cases of seasonal flu in Missoula County. Four other Montana counties have also confirmed flu cases.

Montana State Senator Diane Sands.
Courtesy Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, University of Montana

Montana lawmakers are wondering how to track the effectiveness of nearly $20 million being injected into the state's mental health care system this year.

An Interim Committee Monday heard positive feedback on the funding package. But health care providers say they're not sure what data to collect to demonstrate whether new and expanded programs are successful.  

The Director of Montana’s Medicaid program expects the state to offer expanded Medicaid coverage at the start of the New Year. Mary Dalton told state lawmakers Monday morning that her staff is working at "breakneck speed" to get all the paperwork filed.

Courtesy Photo

NOTE: This post has been edited on 8/19 to clarify information about disenrollment from Medicaid related to not engaging in work or job training programs. 

Montana is holding public meetings this week to get input on its Medicaid expansion plans.

As the state prepares to ask the federal government to accept its version of Medicaid expansion, one critic of the proposal wants to make sure the state is telling the whole story.

Medicare Turns 50 But Big Challenges Await

Jul 31, 2015
Harry Truman's application for Medicare
Courtesy of Truman Library

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, has come a long way since its creation in 1965 when nearly half of all seniors were uninsured. Now, the program covers 55 million people, providing insurance to one in six Americans. With that in mind, Medicare faces a host of challenges in the decades to come. Here’s a look at some of them.