Local Physician Opens New Practice Focusing on ‘Quality Instead of Quantity’

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By: Madeleine Lamon

And so, Tabor-Manaker, a graduate of the Michigan State University School of Medicine who arrived in Kalispell in 2007, first working at Family Health Care before joining the VA in 2015, spent months researching her options and decided to leave the bureaucratic system to establish Glacier Direct Primary Care.

Located in Kalispell, the bright, uncluttered office opened in May and is one of the first direct primary care (DPC) services for adults in the region.

DPC is a form of medical service focusing on the patient-doctor relationship. Commonly confused with concierge medicine, DPC requires patients to pay a flat monthly fee to become a member and receive access to a personal physician and routine medical care. These providers do not accept medical insurance, though they advise patients to maintain their coverage…

While Montana does not have any official legislation concerning DPC, the most recent Legislature passed a Republican-sponsored bill allowing health-care providers to charge periodic fees in direct primary agreements. Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, vetoed it in March 2017 using an argument common among DPC critics.

“They charge fees for treatments already covered by a consumer’s health insurance, such as preventative care that insurance covers at no out-of-pocket cost to the consumer,” Bullock’s veto announcement states.

In December 2017, however, State Auditor Matt Rosendale, a Republican, released an advisory memorandum explicitly defining DPC provider agreements as non-insurance health care options.

“Direct primary care is yet another way for consumers to access routine, preventative, or preliminary health care,” Rosendale said in a press release.

Tabor-Manaker said the memorandum made her “much more comfortable” with establishing a DPC practice. She noted that she first heard about it through a text message from Carol Bridges, the co-founder of CostCare, a medical clinic in Missoula, which transitioned to a DPC model in January. Another local doctor, Cara Harrop, recently established a DPC clinic in Polson as well.

Read more at the Flathead Beacon