Posted: Dec 4, 2012 5:06 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - Montana's 63rd Legislature will convene next month, and in preparation, a group of healthcare stakeholders have been traveling the state hosting forums.
They agree the most controversial healthcare issue will be whether or not the Legislature chooses to expand Medicaid to include more lower-income Montanans.
However, there are several other issues on their radar including provider rate increases, funding for community health centers, nursing homes, and ways to lower the cost of healthcare.
Another over-arching theme is the need for greater emphasis on prevention.
Erin McGowan Fincham of Alliance for a Healthy Montana said, "One of the common threads in all of these community sessions and from all the different stakeholders that are attending is a need to support prevention."
McGowan Fincham says investing in preventive healthcare services lowers the long term cost of healthcare, and that it's just a matter of getting legislators to make the initial investment.
The Lewis & Clark County Health Department will also be watching the Legislature closely.
Melanie Reynolds of the Health Department noted, "In our county, Lewis and Clark County, we are dealing with high suicide rates, the concern about tobacco use, especially in our youth, and there are a variety of mental health issues we are talking about."
Reynolds says they are also interested in improving access to immunizations and increased funding for local health centers.