Friday’s Focus at the Montana Legislature – Health Care Bills
There were two major bills passed on Friday at the Montana Legislature, according to Kyle Schmauch, Communications Director for the Senate Majority at the Legislature has details.
“The first one of those bills authorizes direct patient care,” said Schmauch. “That is Senate Bill 101 by Senator Kerry Smith out of Billings, and it creates a more affordable and accessible option that cuts out insurance companies as the middleman and allows patients to contract directly with their doctors. That bill has now passed both chambers of the legislature so it'll be headed to Governor Gianforte’s desk soon.”
Another bill that passed dealt with tele-health, which exploded in growth due to the pandemic when people were housebound and hospitals were often closed to the general public.
“It makes a permanent repeal of a lot of regulations on tele-health,” he said. “During the pandemic, a lot of regulations were temporarily waived allowing Montanans to access health care over the phone via video service, and this bill is making those changes to our tele-health laws permanent to make tele-health a more permanent and accessible means of accessing healthcare for the future of Montana.”
Schmauch said the tele-health bill was the poster child for bipartisanism, receiving unanimous support from both parties.
“Both of these bills are Republican priority bills, but both have also enjoyed bipartisan support throughout the process,” he said. “In fact, House Bill 43, the Tele-health bill, has been one of the most, if not the most bipartisan bills of the session. It has not received a single no vote at any step in the process. Every single Republican and every single Democrat has voted for that bill to give Montanans more access to tele-health.”
Schmauch looked forward to the rest of the Legislative session.
“The House of Representatives is going to have House Bill Two, and that's the main budget bill for the state for the next two years on the House floor,” he said. “The legislature in both chambers also continues to look at the money that is coming in via the federal stimulus and how that can be used in Montana. Then we've got the big marijuana bill being introduced in the House. This is the primary bill to implement the initiative the voters passed last fall legalizing marijuana in the state.”
Passing a balanced budget is the only constitutional requirement of each legislative session.
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