MTPR

Healthcare

Healthcare news from Montana Public Radio.

Ways to Connect

(PD)

Healthcare has again moved toward the top of the agenda in Montana’s special election race for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House. Whichever candidate wins the race, there’s no way they’ll be able to represent everyone in Montana on healthcare.

Republican House Candidate Greg Gianforte’s campaign is downplaying his comments about the House healthcare bill that were secretly recorded and leaked to the media.

The New York Times says the comments were taped Thursday, “during a private conference call with Republican-leaning lobbyists in Washington.”

Charmayne Healy (l) and Miranda Kirk (r), co-founders of the Aaniiih Nakoda Anti-Drug Movement, and Melinda Healy, a participant in the peer recovery support program.
Nora Saks

There’s a narrative about the methamphetamine epidemic in Montana that says the state tackled it in the 2000s, and now it’s back with a vengeance because of super labs and drug cartels in Mexico. But here on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, it never really went away.

Rob Quist speaks at the Democratic Party's nominating convention in Helena.
Corin Cates Carney

Democratic candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat Rob Quist says the healthcare bill the House passed yesterday, "gives a massive tax cut to millionaires while jacking up premiums for Montanans.” He says he would have voted against the bill.

Quist favors keeping the current Affordable Care Act in place, but says it needs some fixes. We’ll hear his comments on that in a moment.

Montana didn’t have a vote on the healthcare bill that passed the U.S. House today. The state’s seat has been vacant since Ryan Zinke resigned it in March to become interior secretary.

Today the Greg Gianforte, Republican candidate to replace Zinke, talked to Montana Public Radio about the bill.

Greg Gianforte, Rob Quist and Mark Wicks at the MTN News debate April 29, 2017.
Screen capture courtesy MTN News

Mark Wicks, the Libertarian candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat, got statewide exposure in the race’s only televised debate Friday, produced and broadcast by MTN News.

"We’ve been doing the same thing over and over and over, and we get the same result: People back in Washington that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to because they’re beholden to special interests, they’re taking lobbyist money. I’m not beholden to any of that." Wicks said during the debate.

Sheila Hogan is director of Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services
State of Montana

The head of Montana's health department says she is, quote, “disappointed” to learn of the resignation of American Indian Health Director Mary Lynn-Billy Old Coyote.

Billy-Old Coyote submitted her resignation letter Saturday, a little more than a year after she was appointed to the newly created position by Governor Steve Bullock.

Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote is the director of Montana's Office of American Indian Health.
Courtesy Montana DPHHS

Montana's first-ever director of American Indian Health says she thinks state government lacks the commitment for her to do meaningful work, and is resigning.

Mary Lynn Billy-Old Coyote was appointed by Governor Steve Bullock in March of 2016. She submitted her resignation Saturday.

It's a fix that hasn't fixed much, but the troubled Veterans Choice program has been extended anyway.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed a bill extending the program intended to speed veterans' access to health care beyond its original August end point.

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.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A bill to address the high cost of air ambulance rides may not do anything if it passes in the state legislature. Because, as one lawmaker puts it, the proposed legislation may accomplish its goal even before it becomes law.

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.

 Montana’s Spending on substance use disorder treatment by funding source, fiscal year 2016
Montana Healthcare Foundation

There’s long been an imbalance in the number of Montanans who need help beating alcoholism and drug abuse and the amount of treatment programs available.

Lately, those consequences are showing up in the state’s foster care system. The number of children needing care due to drug use problems in their parents has doubled since 2010, and the number of babies born drug-affected has tripled since then.

Those numbers are from a new report by the Montana Healthcare Foundation, which also says the state now has a golden opportunity to dramatically increase the availability of drug and alcohol treatment services.

Veterans Choice, file photo.
Courtesy Veterans Administration

Senator Jon Tester says he'll push for an extension of the troubled Veterans Choice healthcare program on the Senate floor Thursday.

Tester is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee. He co-sponsored the original, bi-partisan Veterans Choice bill in 2014. It was a $10 billion response to revelations that some veterans were being harmed by having to wait for long periods to get healthcare through the VA.

Rob Quist.
Josh Burnham

Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist is traveling around Montana holding rallies where he emphasizes  his stand on protecting public lands. He's also been in the news for unpaid debts and tax liens on his property.

MTPR's Sally Mauk talks with the nominee about his positions on everything from gun rights to healthcare and what he thinks of President Trump.

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.

Montana Lawmakers Cut Budget For Long-Term Senior And Disabled Care

Mar 16, 2017
Montana Lawmakers Cut Budget For Long-Term Senior And Disabled Care
(PD)

One of the amendments to the state budget Montana lawmakers shot down today would have given more funding to a program that helps pay for long-term care for low-income seniors and disabled Montanans.

Montana Lawmakers Consider 6 Percent Tax On Medical Marijuana
Courtesy Drug Policy Alliance

Montana lawmakers are considering a 6 percent sales tax on medical marijuana. Opponents told the House Taxation Committee that the tax would be a hardship on many of the nearly 12,000 registered medical marijuana users in Montana.

Congressional Healthcare Bill Response Tracker

Mar 13, 2017

Loading...

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke acknowledges that the agency he now oversees, "unfortunately, has not always stood shoulder to shoulder with the tribes and communities it represents." 

But Zinke met with the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee this week to help identify Native American-related priorities for the new Trump administration. It's a job that will likely pull him and his staff in many different directions, because as Zinke puts it, "Tribes are not monolithic":

(PD)

Health officials in the Flathead Valley are reporting that in January, five long-term care and assisted living facilities experienced an outbreak of influenza or norovirus. The Flathead City-County Health Department worked with all five facilities following the outbreaks, and says none broke any health regulations.

Joining us now is Katheryn Houghton, the local newspaper reporter who broke the story.

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.

Tester Bills Gives VA Bigger Role Veterans Choice Program
Courtesy Sen. Jon Tester

Three years after Congress created the Veterans Choice healthcare program, it continues to flounder.

Here’s Montana Senator Jon Tester, who helped create Veterans Choice:

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.

Lawmakers Consider Resolution To Help Curb Air Ambulance Costs

Feb 22, 2017
In an effort to control prices on air ambulance rides in Montana, lawmakers are considering urging Congress to revise the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.
Christopher Ebdon (CC-BY-NC-SA)

In an effort to control prices on air ambulance rides in Montana, lawmakers are considering urging Congress to revise the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Senate Joint Resolution 13 resulted from an interim committee’s study that found prices for air ambulance services in the state were leaving patients bankrupt.

Montana Republicans Want $5.5 Million To Grow Healthcare Program
(PD)

Two Republican state lawmakers from Hamilton are asking for $5.5 million to expand a healthcare program.

Montana Senator Steve Daines at the state capitol in Helena, MT.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

When U.S. Senator Steve Daines arrived to the state Capitol Wednesday to speak with House lawmakers and tout support for President Trump's Nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, a crowd of protesters, and a few supporters, were there to meet him.

Pages