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Montana House Advances Direct Primary Care Bill

Health care worker holding a clipboard.
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The Montana House of Representatives advanced a bill Wednesday that outlines how patients could pay for medical care directly without health insurance.

Senate Bill 101 would formalize the practice of a patient paying a monthly fee in exchange for agreed upon services from a health care provider, which is called direct patient care or DPC.

The House endorsed the bill nearly on party lines, with all but two Republicans voting in favor, and the Democrats voting against it.

Republican Rep. Mark Noland carried the bill in the House.

“The DPC is like paying for health care like a Netflix subscription: a direct monthly rate with no copays, co-insurance or hidden fees," he said.

Former state auditor Republican Matt Rosendale signed a memo allowing direct patient care in Montana in 2017. During his campaign for U.S. Congress, Rosendale touted the memo as creating more health care options for Montanans. 

Lawmakers passed bills similar to SB 101 in 2015 and 2017. Both were vetoed by former Democratic governor Steve Bullock, who said the bills would allow providers to charge unnecessary fees for services already covered by insurance. 

Democratic House Minority Leader Kim Abbott opposed the policy this session. She said the practice would go unregulated.

"It’s outside of the insurance commissioner's regulatory duties, and it’s outside of the board of medical examiners. And so what that creates is a pretty big consumer protection issue, from my view."

The House amended the bill, and the Senate will have to approve those changes before it can go to Gianforte for consideration.

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