Medicaid and Abortion Top Health Agenda for Montana Lawmakers

Linda Rider

HELENA, Mont. — Montana lawmakers stated lowering fees and increasing patient entry will be their major overall health treatment objectives for the new legislative session. But they also will have to contend with creating variations to Medicaid, a management disaster at the Montana Condition Medical center, and proposals to regulate abortion.

Republicans, who hold a veto-evidence bulk, stated they will focus on 3 places of wellbeing treatment: transparency, prices, and individual alternatives.

Party leaders intention to preserve “taking tiny bites that are going the ball in the appropriate way on people three significant factors,” Senate Republican spokesperson Kyle Schmauch claimed.

Democrats, who are the minority social gathering and have to have Republican help to move their charges, determined lowering health and fitness treatment fees, shielding Medicaid coverage, and preserving reproductive liberty as their priorities.

As the 90-day Montana session enters its 2nd 7 days, right here are some of the top wellness troubles on the agenda:

Growing Affected individual Entry

Increasing telehealth and building it easier for capable providers from outdoors the state to observe in Montana are two approaches Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte proposes to enhance wellbeing care accessibility, claimed spokesperson Brooke Stroyke.

Residence Speaker Matt Regier (R-Kalispell) agreed that telehealth is essential to improving upon access. Republicans program to establish on a law passed in the 2021 session that created everlasting some of the pandemic-pushed crisis regulations that loosened restrictions on telehealth.

Schmauch mentioned legislators will think about shelling out proposals to expand Montana’s broadband arrive at to make telehealth a feasible selection for far more people, specifically rural people.

Other proposals meant to give rural patients with restricted accessibility to treatment additional alternatives are prepared, this sort of as letting doctors to dispense prescription medications to clients, and making it possible for pharmacists to prescribe certain medicines, Schmauch mentioned.


Eleven Montana nursing residences declared closures in 2022, with officers citing staffing shortages and lower Medicaid reimbursement rates as the major motives for the industry’s ongoing struggles.

Lawmakers will discussion boosting reimbursement rates for nursing households and numerous other forms of overall health vendors soon after a state-commissioned review observed they had been way too low to address the price of treatment.

“Increasing supplier prices at the study’s advisable level will be certain a potent health and fitness care workforce and should be a precedence for this legislature,” reported Heather O’Loughlin, govt director of the Montana Price range and Coverage Centre, a nonprofit firm that analyzes the point out funds, taxes, and economic system.

Gianforte’s spending plan proposal contains reimbursement level raises that slide short of what the examine recommends. A bill by Rep. Mary Caferro (D-Helena) would foundation supplier prices on the study’s results.

Federal principles dictated that any person enrolled in Medicaid could not be dropped from the system all through the community health and fitness emergency. But the omnibus spending bill lately passed by Congress allows states to commence reviewing the eligibility of their beneficiaries in April, and thousands and thousands of men and women throughout the U.S. are at risk of shedding coverage as a consequence.

“That will have an inherent end result of getting rid of people who skilled for Medicaid but because of this method getting so intricate, they’ll drop it,” Caferro explained.

Caferro stated she ideas to introduce legislation that restores 12-month steady eligibility for grown ups enrolled in Montana Medicaid. The evaluate is probable to be opposed by legislative Republicans and Gianforte, who co-signed a letter to President Joe Biden in December indicating the general public wellbeing emergency experienced artificially expanded the Medicaid populace.

Montana Point out Healthcare facility

The Montana Condition Healthcare facility dropped its federal accreditation immediately after a spate of injuries and fatalities, earning administration of the psychiatric healthcare facility and the availability of behavioral health and fitness products and services a leading priority of the session.

Stroyke mentioned Gianforte’s two-12 months budget plan, which is a starting off stage for legislative finances writers, includes $300 million for the condition healthcare facility and for growing accessibility to intense behavioral health and fitness treatment throughout the point out.

Legislators are taking into consideration actions that would shift care for some individuals from the state-operate clinic to community-centered wellbeing expert services. Regier explained shifting additional public wellness companies from point out establishments to community suppliers would decrease some pressure on amenities like the Montana Condition Clinic.


Lawmakers from equally functions have submitted extra than a dozen monthly bill draft requests working with abortion. A person from Regier would limit the sort of abortions that can be carried out in the point out, and, at the other conclusion of the discussion, a proposal by Sen. Ryan Lynch (D-Butte) would codify abortion obtain in state regulation. The Gianforte administration also not too long ago proposed an administrative rule that would make it far more tricky for women to have an abortion paid for by Medicaid.

But the Republican the greater part is limited from enacting a sweeping abortion ban in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 choice to overturn Roe v. Wade. Which is mainly because a 1999 Montana Supreme Court ruling decided the point out constitution’s proper-to-privacy safety covers abortion obtain. The state is trying to get to overturn that precedent just after a decide blocked 3 anti-abortion laws passed by the 2021 legislature.

Clinic Oversight

Lawmakers also will think about proposals to maximize oversight of the way nonprofit hospitals report community positive aspects.

State overall health officers have desired to established standards for the charitable contributions those people hospitals make in exchange for their tax-exempt standing. A KHN investigation discovered that Montana’s nonprofit hospitals put in about 8{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} of their full once-a-year costs on charity gains in 2019, which is underneath the countrywide typical.

Keely Larson is the KHN fellow for the UM Legislative Information Company, a partnership of the University of Montana University of Journalism, the Montana Newspaper Association, and Kaiser Wellbeing Information. Larson is a graduate university student in environmental and natural resources journalism at the College of Montana.

KHN (Kaiser Health and fitness News) is a national newsroom that creates in-depth journalism about overall health issues. Collectively with Policy Evaluation and Polling, KHN is a person of the a few main running packages at KFF (Kaiser Loved ones Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit firm giving details on overall health concerns to the country.

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