Health care improvements thwarted by politics

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By: Matt Rosendale

Too often, real policy improvements get drowned out by political talking points. That is the case right now as nearly all of the health care discussion in Montana is about one flawed health care bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the 2017 legislative session, we saw unprecedented bipartisan action to improve health care. Representative Rob Cook (R-Conrad) carried an important bill to allow my team at the State Auditor’s office to pursue a waiver from the federal government and create a reinsurance system that would have stabilized our insurance market and lowered costs. It passed the Montana House unanimously before politics got involved.

Representative Amanda Curtis (D-Butte) sponsored a great bill to require transparency in health care prices and let patients share in the savings by finding procedures for lower costs from different hospitals. Senator Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls) carried another bill that would have empowered Montanans with the ability to know the cost of health care procedures.

Another bill, by Senator Cary Smith (R-Billings), would have allowed Montanans to contract directly with their doctors for services. Representative Nancy Balance (R-Hamilton) carried a bill to include Montana in a compact with other states to protect citizens’ control over health care decisions. Two more bills would have helped small businesses provide health insurance to their employees and allowed Montanans to shop out-of-state for affordable health insurance.

Tragically, Governor Bullock vetoed all six bills that landed on his desk. These bills would have made health care more accessible and affordable, but Bullock chose to obstruct the Legislature and hurt Montanans struggling to make ends meet.

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