Montana Public Radio

John Doran

Montana Lawmaker Introduces Direct Patient Care Bill

19 hours ago

A Montana state lawmaker today introduced a bill that would formalize a patient’s ability to directly pay a doctor for care without insurance. Similar bills have been vetoed in the past.

Republican Sen. Cary Smith of Billings told the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee that direct patient care lowers provider overhead costs and simplifies the health care experience by sidestepping insurance companies, and state and federal regulations.

Montana’s Mask Mandate In Doubt With Incoming Governor

Dec 21, 2020
State Capitol, Helena
Jacob Baynham / Community News Service, UM School of Journalism

HELENA, Mont. — Incoming Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signaled he won’t continue a statewide mask mandate in place since July, though he said he plans to wear a mask himself and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Coronavirus
iStock

Montana’s four largest health insurance companies are voluntarily waiving customer costs for coronavirus testing.

"It’s just the right thing to do," says Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana spokesman, John Doran. "There’s a lot of scare in communities across Montana and, of course, across the nation about COVID. Obviously, the best medicine is prevention."

Average Monthly Premiums for Second-Lowest Cost Silver Plan in Montana 2016-2019.
Data from: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, https://go.cms.gov/2Jp5SkE

Next year, premiums for individual health insurance plans in Montana will go down for the first time since the Affordable Care Act took effect. Open enrollment starts Friday.

The roughly 50,000 Montanans who receive health coverage in the Affordable Care Act marketplace could see their premium bills drop by hundreds or thousands of dollars next year.

Pills, stock photo.
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Montana lawmakers and the state insurance commissioner are targeting a generally hidden part of the healthcare system, with new regulations aimed at bringing down prescription drug costs. Companies in the drug supply chain, and the state’s biggest health insurance company, are fighting back.

At the podium, Julie Kelso, a Billings Clinic psychiatrist, announces the $250,000 donation on Dec. 10, 2018. (L to R) John Doran, BCBS Montana; Eric Arzubi, Billings Clinic psychiatrist; and Jim Ducan, President of Billings Clinic Foundation.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Montana’s first-ever medical residency program for psychiatrists received a quarter-million-dollar gift Monday. Advocates are hopeful that establishing residencies will grow the number of mental health professionals in the state.

Until recently, Montana was one of only three states in the country without a program to train psychiatrists. The other two, Alaska and Wyoming, are also among the top three places for suicides per capita - Montana is at the top of that list.

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Governor Steve Bullock is creating a bipartisan working-group to develop a plan to reduce premiums for people who buy health insurance on the federal marketplace.

A Montana Healthcare Foundation study found that reinsurance programs insulate insurers from very high claims and save consumers money.

Ongoing budget cuts mean the State of Montana has ended a contract that paid a big health insurance company $6 million a year to manage Medicaid recipients. That’s more than twice as much as it allocates to the state health department for similar work.

It's about one month until open enrollment starts for health insurance plans sold on Healthcare.gov. Yesterday Montana's biggest health insurance company said it won't attempt to adjust its premiums downward for next year.

The three biggest health insurance companies in Montana met with state insurance commissioner Matt Rosendale Wednesday to explain their price increases for 2018.

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