Task force to look at health insurance savings

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By: Phil Drake

The state has created a bipartisan work group to look into saving Montanans money on individual health insurance premiums through a reinsurance program, the governor’s office said Wednesday.

The governor and department of administration director said this decision follows a report commissioned by the Montana Healthcare Foundation that shows a state reinsurance program could save Montanans 10 percent to 20 percent on health insurance premiums…

The office of Matt Rosendale, state insurance commissioner, said attempts by Rosendale to create a state reinsurance program were halted by Bullock in 2017.

“It is unfortunate that two state (insurance commissioner) bills to do just that were vetoed last year and Montana is now further behind than we should be, but we are optimistic that we can create a good system going forward,” spokesman Kyle Schmauch said.

He said Rosendale will work with the Legislature and the governor “to create a made-in-Montana reinsurance program despite last year’s vetoes.”

Rosendale…criticized Bullock in May 2017 for vetoing House Bill 652 by Rep. Rob Cook, R-Conrad, which was touted that it would “generally revise health care laws” and help provide coverage for high-risk people…

Cook said Wednesday his bill was actually vetoed twice; once during the regular session and again in the special session in November. He said he had altered the bill from the general session after reviewing the governor’s comments killing the bill.

On Wednesday he called the governor a “slow learner.”

“After vetoing two separate Republican bills that would have allowed this process to get started more than one year ago, I’m both amazed and pleased that the governor has finally seen the light,” he said in an email. “I guess a sluggish reaction to national events is better than no reaction at all.”

Schmauch said Rosendale and his staff have already made preparations and continues to prepare to administer a state reinsurance program.

“Several other states have already created successful reinsurance programs and it’s past time for Montana to do the same,” he said.

Read more at the Great Falls Tribune