Governor Greg Gianforte recently shared elements of his health care agenda for the 2023 legislative session and the year ahead, emphasizing the need to increase access to affordable, high-quality health care.
“Creating greater, and better, access to health care and lowering Montanans’ costs for care are core pillars of our health care agenda for 2023,” Gov. Gianforte said. “I look forward to working with legislators, patients, doctors, providers, and hospital administrators to develop more meaningful, innovative solutions that improve Montanans’ health and their access to care.”
At the Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine, the governor highlighted the importance of recruiting and retaining medical professionals to expand access to care.
“With an increasingly aging population as well as our growing population, demand for health care providers continues to rise in Montana, and our supply can’t keep up. This has been a growing issue that we’ve faced for many years. We’re coming to the table with more solutions in 2023,” the governor said, before outlining his plan to make it easier for qualified health care providers to practice medicine in Montana by reducing unnecessary barriers they face.
“Imagine if you’re a doctor who’s registered to practice medicine in another state and are in good standing there. You move to Montana. You shouldn’t have to jump through burdensome hoops to start treating patients in your community here,” the governor continued. “We must reform our licensure regime to reduce those barriers.”
Addressing the substance use crisis and shortage of mental health providers, Gov. Gianforte highlighted programs his administration has implemented, including the HEART Fund and the Angel Initiative, to increase access to treatment and recovery for those struggling with addiction.
Building on those successes, the governor addressed a plan to improve access to mental health resources, saying, “Montana should enter into a behavioral health compact to reduce barriers that qualified providers face. By taking that step, Montanans will have better access to mental health care.”
He also credited Rocky Vista’s Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine, the first medical school in Montana, as a key part of the solution in meeting the demand for medical professionals.
Acknowledging the federal government has a larger role in lowering health care costs, the governor emphasized the state must do what it can to lower costs, including increasing medical billing transparency.
“What if, before a procedure, you knew what you would pay? What if your provider and your insurer provided you with a cost estimate? We must ensure Montanans have access to important pricing information prior to receiving services,” Gov. Gianforte said. “With greater transparency on costs in advance, Montanans can better make health care decisions that work for them and their families.”
The governor began his remarks by acknowledging Montana’s health care workers and the important work they do.
Last Sunday, a patient entered the Billings Clinic emergency room and attempted suicide before law enforcement intervened.
“What happened Sunday was troubling and traumatic. It’s a reminder that our health care workers are on the frontlines, every day, serving our communities. They see patients, as well as their friends and family, at their most vulnerable, and it takes a toll on them,” the governor said.
“No nurse or doctor or provider should fear for their well-being simply by showing up for work and doing their best to care for patients,”