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Legislature works on affordable healthcare initiatives

Legislature works on affordable healthcare initiatives

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There's no question that ensuring access to affordable healthcare is one of the most important issues we currently face as a country and as a state. That's why Senate Republicans promised to make key strides on this issue.

And as the end of the session quickly approaches, I can say with certainty that we have made significant progress in expanding access to affordable health care for Montanans. Here are just a few examples:

Senate Bill 101, sponsored by Senator Cary Smith, R-Billings, seeks to authorize Direct Patient Care (DPC) in state law; this will expand access to affordable health care for Montanans all across the state.

Direct Patient Care is a system where patients pay their doctors directly, often through an affordable, flat monthly subscription fee, for various health care services instead of going through an insurance company.

DPC provides an alternative health care model that improves the doctor-patient relationship, simplifies the system to speed up the process of receiving care, allows Montanans who are uninsured can enjoy access to the health care they otherwise would not be able to afford or receive.

By eliminating burdensome red tape created by the insurance industry, DPC cuts out the middle man to provide Montanans with increased access to quality health care, more affordable care, greater transparency in pricing, and better, more personalized care options.

House Bill 43 was another Republican priority this session. This bill permanently repeals several regulations on telehealth that were waived during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This repeal will expand telehealth services to Montanans who need them to access quality, affordable healthcare. After passing both chambers unanimously, HB 43 is on its way to being signed by Governor Gianforte. It will permanently expand telehealth in Montana and lock in regulatory flexibilities that were allowed during our ongoing pandemic.

Another piece of legislation, Senate Bill 395, sponsored by Senator Greg Hertz, R-Polson, will go a long way in ensuring transparency in prescription drug pricing. SB 395 passed the Senate with 50 votes on third reading. Studies show that spending on prescription drug costs will likely be the fastest-growing health category over the next decade.

Thankfully, SB 395 takes aim at this issue by increasing regulation over Pharmacy Benefit Managers – the middlemen who profit from rising higher prescription drug costs. This bill will ensure greater transparency in the prescription drug market by requiring PBMs to report rebates, costs, and fees so that health plans can better negotiate for lower prices.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that Montanans in all corners of the state need increased, more affordable access to health care, and Republicans delivered results this session. This innovative, bipartisan leadership shows how Republicans in Helena are solving critical issues and concretely improving the lives of Montanans' in every corner of the state.

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