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Healthcare

Healthcare news from Montana Public Radio.

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Congressional Healthcare Bill Response Tracker

Mar 13, 2017

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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 But some Montana residents are concerned that if Obamacare is repealed and replaced, these provisions will disappear.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.

Last week, both of Montana’s senators held virtual town-hall meetings to connect with constituents. Questions ranged from Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, to the Affordable Care Act and Russia.

Bozeman Democratic Representative Zach Brown
Montana legislature

The sponsor of a bill that would mandate limits on opioid prescriptions in Montana now says he’s willing to abandon that idea at the request of physicians in the state.

A Montana senator from Kalispell went before lawmakers today to ask for statewide restrictions on when women can have abortions. Republican Al Olszewski introduced his bill to ban late-term abortions this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Crystal Methampetamine, or "meth."
File photo (PD)

Montana lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, along with state agency workers and members of the public convened in Helena Saturday with one big problem to discuss.

"Without question, everyone in here, in this room, every citizen in this state, every resident of my community is affected by methamphetamine."

Capitol Connections: Montana American Indian Caucus

Feb 15, 2017

There are 9 American Indian legislators in the 65th Montana Legislature, according to self-reporting to the Legislative Services Division. That’s about 6% of the 150 members. These 9 lawmakers have joined forces with at least 7 other legislative colleagues with American Indian constituents to form the Montana American Indian Caucus.


(PD)

Sheila Stearns is barely three months into her interim position as president of the University of Montana.  The former Commissioner of Higher Education and UM alumna freely admits that she has plenty to learn about what’s happening on campus.

Bill Would Create A Fund For Family And Medical Leave

Feb 9, 2017

Montana lawmakers heard a bill Thursday that would create a fund to help with those in need of family or medical leave from their job. 

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)

On Wednesday, the first in a package of bills trying to address the high cost of air ambulances landed before lawmakers for a vote.

As lawmakers continue crafting the state’s budget, officials with Montana’s health department say the state’s Medicaid programs need more funds to keep up with caseloads. 

Dr. David Shulkin is President Trump's nominee to run the Veterans Affairs Department.
(PD)

President Donald Trump's nominee to run the Veterans Affairs Department says there are no easy fixes for what ails that beleaguered agency.

At his confirmation hearing today, Dr. David Shulkin vowed to, "seek major reform and a transformation of the VA."

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
PD

As Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services faces a proposed $93 million dollars in budget cuts in the wake of  state revenue shortfalls, the department’s new director says she hopes to maintain efforts to combat Montana’s high suicide rate.

Josh Burnham

Healthcare employment in Montana grew by more than 3 percent last year, after years of growth below 1 percent. That's according to the new annual report from the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

2016 was the first full year of Medicaid expansion in Montana under the Affordable Care Act, which helped the state's uninsured rate drop by nearly two-thirds.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
Mike Albans

State lawmakers consider big budget cuts this session, including $93 million in cuts for the Department of Health and Human Services. The Montana Legislature begins preparations for the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and two familiar names are circulating for the special election to fill Ryan Zinke’s congressional seat — Gianforte and Baucus.

Join Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson, and Rob Saldin now for this episode of  "Capitol Talk."

Montana Lawmakers Look For Ways To Address High Healthcare Costs

Jan 13, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

When travelers are looking for a cheaper way to get to their destination, they might try different websites to compare prices. Republican Senator Cary Smith says the same should be true for health care.

Senate Bill 96 would provide incentive for both the patients and their insurers to shop around for their treatment and procedures. The savings would be split between the patient and the insurance company.

Josh Burnham

If you’re wondering how repealing the Affordable Care Act will impact Montana, Indian country is a good place to look.

To Native healthcare leaders, Obamacare provides a great opportunity to create jobs.

As Congress debates repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration is making a push to get as many people as possible to shop for health insurance via healthcare.gov.

A line of people waiting to testify in support of removing balance billing for air ambulance rides in Montana.
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana lawmakers are trying to find a balance between the lifesaving air ambulance services, and the crippling debt those rides can bury patients in.

 Tony Lapinski is a Montana veteran who's had trouble using Veterans Choice
Mike Albans

Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators have sent letters chastising the company that runs the Veterans Choice healthcare program in Montana and 36 other states.

Veterans Choice is supposed to help vets get appointments with private health care providers if they live far from a VA facility, or have been waiting a long time for a VA appointment. It was created in 2014, and has been plagued with problems since the beginning.

Two bills designed to help protect Montanans from unexpected and exorbitant air ambulance bills get their first hearings at the state legislature Tuesday.
(PD)

Two bills designed to help protect Montanans from unexpected and exorbitant air ambulance bills get their first hearings at the state legislature Tuesday.

Senator Jon Tester
Eric Whitney

Senator Jon Tester is asking for feedback on what would happen if Congress and the Trump administration repeal the Affordable Care Act as they’ve been promising.

On Friday and Saturday he visited Libby, Kalispell, and Missoula to meet with health care providers and leaders at hospitals, clinics and public health departments.

Bill Dickinson

Hi!  I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician. I’m here today to give you health tips on two chilly topics: frostbite and frostnip.

The difference between frostbite and frostnip is like the difference between a dog bite and a dog nip. A bite hurts a lot and might leave a scar. A nip hurts, but it doesn’t usually cut the skin, and the pain goes away quickly.

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