Posted: Apr 11, 2013 8:49 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
HAMILTON - Governor Steve Bullock says a proposal expanding Medicaid coverage to additional 70,000 Montanans would help move the state to a more "patient-centered" system, saving money in the long run.
And just days away from a key hearing, the governor is also promoting the economic impact for Montana's counties.
Governor Bullock came to the Bitterroot today to tour the Hospice Care facility here at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital. But also to ask support for his health care legislation which comes up for a key hearing Monday in Helena."
Bullock made a quick trip to Helena Thursday morning to look at the operations, and changes underway at Marcus Daly Memorial, which is a prime example of how Montana's small hospitals are working to adapt to the costs of providing healthcare, balanced against the aging population and demand for services.
The governor told key hospital administrators Senate Bill 395 would expand Medicaid to more Montanans, and just as importantly, start reforming health care, moving the "primary health care" model hospitals like Marcus Daly are emphasizing, "You know, so many families are one medical incident away from a bankruptcy. And even those without coverage, at the end of the day, those of us with coverage, or through your charity care policies, we're covering them. I mean that's part of the mission of a hospital. But we're not necessarily covering them in the best way."
"And also for these patients who have chronic problems, to have primary care follow them. The emergency room is the most expensive access to health care, as we all know." said John Bartos, CEO of Marcus Daly Hospital.
SB-395 would make it possible for a family of four earning 32-thousand a year to qualify for government-run insurance, up from the present 8-thousand dollar limit. In Ravalli County that would help more than 27-hundred Bitterroot residents.
Bullock says that would not only save money by keeping people healthier, but would also create up to 5-thousand new healthcare jobs in Montana in the first year. In the Bitterroot Valley that could mean hundreds of new jobs in the coming years.
But he admits it's a tough sell, asking healthcare professionals to contact legislators and show support for the changes, "But from a public policy standpoint this is our window for the next two years. And that window will close, more or less, in about two weeks. So any efforts that you can make is very much appreciated. And it will be appreciated by your communities. By those individuals that you're seeing each and every day coming into your emergency room."