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Healthcare news from Montana Public Radio.

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Groups in support of I-185 held a press conference across from the Capitol in Helena Wednesday, August 22, 2018.
Corin Cates-Carney

A fight backed by hospitals and tobacco companies over an initiative that will appear on Montana ballots this November has amassed more than $2 million. 

Ballot Initiative 185 asks voters to raise taxes on all tobacco products, and for the first time tax e-cigarettes and vaping products, to fund health programs, including the state’s Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Greg Gianforte meets with Montana tech-industry reps in Missoula, August 20, 2018.
Edward O'Brien

High tech executives in Missoula told Congressman Greg Gianforte that finding qualified labor, and the cost of health coverage are among their biggest challenges.

Gianforte invited a handful of representatives from Montana’s growing high-tech industry to meet with him Monday.

A unanimous Montana Supreme Court has rejected a tobacco industry-funded group's request to rewrite the ballot statement of a citizen's initiative to raise the state's tobacco taxes.

The opinion by Chief Justice Mike McGrath Wednesday says the statement written by the attorney general's office meets legal standards and will appear as is before voters in November.

The Sunburst office in Eureka
sunburstfoundation.org

The state health department is figuring out how to restore funding to health care providers who take Medicaid, but it may be too late for people in Libby and Eureka who need help with mental health.

"I don’t think we’ll be able to keep those offices open," Megan Bailey, a therapist with Sunburst Mental Health told a legislative committee Monday.

State Budget Director Dan Villa and State Health Department Director Sheila Hogan hear input on how to allocate $45 million in restored state funding at a listening session in Helena, MT August 1, 2018.
Eric Whitney / MTPR

"This has been a very difficult year," says Sheila Hogan, director of Montana's state health department.

She was talking to hundreds of people online and in a hotel ballroom in Helena who were not shy about telling her just how tough their year has been. They were people impacted by a nearly three percent cut in payments to people and organizations that help Montanans on Medicaid.

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