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Healthcare news from Montana Public Radio.

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A new report released Tuesday says around 60 percent of Montana businesses last year had at least one worker enrolled in Medicaid expansion. Enrollment in the health care program for low income adults has been on the rise for the last four months.

At a meeting in Bozeman, Barbara Wagner, chief economist of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, said nearly 20 percent of the state’s entire workforce was enrolled in Medicaid at one point or another last year.

Telemedicine And Montana’s Digital Divide

Sep 10, 2020

When COVID-19 safety protocols shifted whole sectors of the healthcare industry from in person visits to a telehealth model, Arjun and Hannah Verma watched their parents, a pulmonologist and a cardiologist, fret about some of their elderly patients who were unprepared for the switch. The elder Vermas were concerned that their patients who didn’t own camera enabled devices or know how to use video conferencing platforms would be forced to forgo critical care.

School hallway.

School districts across Montana have been in session for a few weeks now and there have already been confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in schools. But county health departments and school districts are taking varied approaches in how they are disclosing those cases to students, parents, staff and the broader public. MTPR's Aaron Bolton talks with YPR's Nicky Ouellet about his reporting on this.

The candidates for Montana’s state auditor office squared off in a televised debate Sunday hosted by MTN News. The Republican candidate touted his past business experience as making him the most qualified to run the office. The Democrat argues he’s best prepared for the job due to his work as an attorney and state legislator.

St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
Courtesy St. Patrick Hospital

Intensive psychiatric services for youth in Missoula are scarce but Providence St. Patrick Hospital’s just expanded that capacity. The brand new 14-bed Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatric Unit serves patients, ages 12 to 17, who are experiencing significant mental health crises.

Montana has awarded more than $540,000 in grants to health care providers so they can help people find affordable insurance plans.

Hospitals, clinics and tribal nations will use the money to train or hire counselors through June who can guide Montanans through the health care insurance application process, including on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Riverstone Health CEO John Felton said during a news conference Friday that many of the Billings organization’s patients have lost their jobs and health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Campaign Beat: Greens, Guns And Preexisting Conditions

Aug 21, 2020

Montana's Secretary of State loses his battle to keep Green Party candidates on the ballot. New campaign ads focus on family and gun rights. The two candidates for governor release their health care plans. The national party conventions may hold little sway over Montana races. And Governor Bullock rebukes State School Superintendent Elsie Arntzen in their ongoing dispute over school masking policy

Listen now on Campaign Beat with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

Montana lt. governor and gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney.

Montana’s Democratic candidate for governor announced a plan Wednesday that he says will increase access to health care and lower prescription drug prices.

The plan reiterates Lt. Gov Mike Cooney’s support for Montana’s Medicaid expansion program, which was reauthorized with bipartisan support during the 2019 legislative session. The plan also outlines several legislative actions Cooney would push aimed at decreasing the cost of prescriptions.

GOP Senate Ad Misrepresents Montana Governor’s Stance

Aug 18, 2020

An attack ad, which was released in mid-July, states that Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democratic candidate for the Senate, supports a government-run health care program that would wreak havoc on the state’s health care infrastructure.

Montana To Receive COVID-19 Drug Treatment

Jul 24, 2020

Next week, Montana hospitals are expected to receive hundreds more doses of an antiviral drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients. YPR News’ Kevin Trevellyan reports.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is sending 24 cases of remdesivir to Montana, enough for roughly 150 standard treatment courses.

Dr. Joshua Christensen, an infectious disease physician at Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, is relieved at the incoming shipment, but warns the drug isn’t a silver bullet.