HELENA, Mont. — Montana lawmakers said lowering costs and expanding patient access will be their top health care goals for the new legislative session. But they also will have to contend with making changes to Medicaid, a management crisis at the Montana State Hospital, and proposals to regulate abortion.
Republicans, who hold a veto-proof majority, said they will focus on three areas of health care: transparency, costs, and patient options.
Party leaders aim to keep “taking small bites that are moving the ball in the right direction on those three big things,” Senate Republican spokesperson Kyle Schmauch said.
Democrats, who are the minority party and need Republican help to pass their bills, identified lowering health care costs, protecting Medicaid coverage, and preserving reproductive freedom as their priorities.
As the 90-day Montana session enters its second week, here are some of the top health issues on the agenda:
Expanding Patient Access
Expanding telehealth and making it easier for qualified providers from outside the state to practice in Montana are two ways Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte proposes to improve health care access, said spokesperson Brooke Stroyke.
House Speaker Matt Regier (R-Kalispell) agreed that telehealth is key to improving access. Republicans plan to build on a law passed in the 2021 session that made permanent some of the pandemic-driven emergency regulations that loosened restrictions on telehealth.