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Healthcare news from Montana Public Radio.

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Negotiations between the state and companies that help people with developmental disabilities seem to be at a dead end. This after some lawmakers urged the state health department not to end contracts with the companies due to budget cuts.

Health Department Outlines Cuts To Services For Special Needs Kids
Corin Cates-Carney

The state health department is taking the next step to chip away at $49 million in budget cuts. That’s how much Governor Steve Bullock and state lawmakers told the department it had to reduce expenses at the end November’s special legislative session, in order to balance the state budget after lower than expected tax revenues last year.

More than 40 people came to the DPHHS hearing on Medicaid cuts Thursday, Feb. 01 in Helena.
Corin Cates-Carney

The Montana health department faced blistering public comment Thursday on their plan to cut more than $12 million from Medicaid services. Governor Steve Bullock and state lawmakers reduced funding to most state agencies to balance the state’s budget.

The roughly $12 million is part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ continuing work to cut $49 million in spending. That’s more than more than 4.5 percent of its general fund budget.

Thompson Falls resident Amanda Childers testified before a legislative committee Thursday about how the job training component of Montana's expanded Medicaid program put her on a path to a career in health care.
Eric Whitney

Last week the Trump administration made a historic change to Medicaid, the health coverage program that’s jointly funded by the states and federal government. For the first time, states were given the OK to require Medicaid recipients to work in exchange for health coverage.

Republican lawmakers tried to do that in Montana 2015, but the Obama administration said no.

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.

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