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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Healthcare Bill Changes Provide Incentive To Maintain Coverage, Daines Says

Providence Health and Services announced Wednesday that it is expanding behavioral health services in all nine of its primary care clinics in western Montana.

Senate Republicans issued a revised version of their health care bill Monday.

The U.S. Senate’s original health care bill released last week did not penalize anyone who let their insurance lapse. Under the new package introduced Monday, anyone lacking coverage for at least 63 days in the past year and who then buys a policy would face a six-month delay before it takes effect. 

Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines says the Senate’s draft bill needed that kind of incentive:
"The 6-month waiting period would be a way to say, 'You know, it’s important you maintain continual coverage.' We want to make sure that in order to get into the system for all Montanans that it’s affordable and accessible, but there’s also an accountability piece that says you have to maintain your insurance," Daines says.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Senate Health Care bill would result in 22-million more uninsured Americansover the next decade compared to current law.

Daines says he’ll factor that estimate into his final decision.

"The CBO is not necessarily gospel truth, but it is a good guideline where we can start having a discussion. I do look at other actuarials that are out there out there, experts in health care — Kaiser (Healthcare Foundation) — being one of them, to see what they project. The truth is going to be found by looking at a number of these different analyses."

Daines is holding a tele-town hall Wednesday evening and says he wants to hear more from Montanans before he’ll announce whether he supports the Senate health care bill.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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