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Governor Bullock Signs Sweeping Package of Health Care Bills into Law, Including Reauthorization of Medicaid Expansion

Bipartisan bills to increase access, reduce costs, and improve the quality of care

Thursday, May 9, 2019/Categories: Governor's Office/Tags:

Governor Steve Bullock today signed into law a sweeping package of health care bills, including the reauthorization of Medicaid expansion and a program to lower insurance premiums on the individual market. 

“These bills continue the progress our state has made in recent years to provide quality and affordable health care to Montanans, and they will further our efforts to increase access, reduce costs, and improve the quality of care,” said Governor Bullock. “By finding common ground and taking much-needed action now, we continue to be an example for other states to follow.”

Governor Bullock joined the legislative sponsors of nine bills at a signing ceremony, which included the reauthorization of Medicaid expansion, the public reinsurance program to lower premiums, and other legislation aimed at lowering prescription drug prices and increasing access to medical, mental health and substance use treatment in rural and American Indian communities.

On signing House Bill 658, the reauthorization of Medicaid expansion, Governor Bullock said, “When I stood before the legislative body and delivered my fourth and final State of the State address, I asked that we not forget exactly what Medicaid expansion has done and will continue to do for Montana. Putting pen to this paper is a testament that our state and its people are better off because of Medicaid expansion.”

Governor Bullock also celebrated the passage of Senate Bill 125, which establishes a public reinsurance program to save Montanans money on insurance premiums. This legislation stems from a 13-member work group Governor Bullock and the Department of Administration tasked with developing bipartisan legislation to offset high dollar claims.

“We hear time and time again that it’s an issue all over for people from all walks of life and Montana is no different,” said Senator Steve Fitzpatrick of Great Falls, the sponsor of SB 125. “The data showed us that reinsurance will lower premiums up to 20% for those purchasing insurance. This is an important step towards making healthcare more accessible and affordable.”

As part of the health care package, Governor Bullock signed three bills aimed at tackling skyrocketing prescription drug costs:

  • Senate Bill 335 protects federally qualified health centers from discrimination in prescription drug pricing;
  • Senate Bill 83 holds accountable pharmacy benefit managers by applying protections to their billing practices and preventing surprise fees; and
  • Senate Bill 270, the Prescription Price Protection Act, prohibits pharmacy benefit managers from requiring pharmacies to charge consumers more in copayments than it costs to make a drug.

Governor Bullock also signed multiple bills that will increase access to health care services, including mental health and substance use treatment, in rural and American Indian communities:

  • House Bill 660 sets up mobile crisis team units to improve rural communities’ ability to respond to mental health crises;
  • Senate Bill 30 adds peer support as a Medicaid-covered service;
  • House Bill 599 ensures tribal communities who wish can license and use community health workers in Indian Health Service facilities to improve access to care; and
  • House Bill 696 provides grants for suicide prevention work by the Native Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Governors/Mayor’s Challenge suicide prevention initiative focused on service members, veterans, and their families.
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