Legislative update: Tuesday, Jan. 10

capitol-logoChemical dependency treatment examined

By Freddy Monares

The Department of Health and Human Services is challenging a 40-year-old statute that it said creates a government-established monopoly when it comes to chemical dependency treatment.

Right now, state law provides funding for only one treatment facility and services for a set area. House Bill 95 would allow the department to implement more facilities and programs as they see fit for specific areas.

But Mona Jameson, a representative for Boyd Andrew Chemical Dependency Treatment Programs in Helena, said duplicating services would strain treatment facilities.

“You end up diluting the availability of even your counselors—of your licensed chemical dependency counselors—to even provide the treatment,” Jameson said.

Jameson said she thinks the bill would produce results opposite from what it is trying to achieve. The Human Services committee will hear the bill Wednesday.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

 

Air-ambulance changes considered

By Cole Grant

Sonia Mosolic-Andrews of Butte said that when her husband was taken by air ambulance from Anaconda to Seattle, she never thought to ask whether the air service was in her husband’s insurance network. It was not.

“I get it, competition’s good,” she said. “Supply and demand. Well that might work when you’re booking a flight to Hawaii, but not when you’re praying over your husband’s sedated body.”

Mosolic-Andrews testified at the Montana Legislature Tuesday in support of Senate Bill 44. It aims to get rid of the customer’s responsibility in paying above their out-of-pocket limit when faced with out-of-network air ambulance charges.

Bill Lombardi of Blue Cross Blue Shield says the bill will have some unintended consequences. “It will increase consumer costs, and reward some for-profit companies for price gouging Montanans at the time of their greatest need,” he said.

The committee did not vote on the bill.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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