The 2009 Legislature approved Senate Joint Resolution 35, for a study of matters related to health care. The study resolution called for monitoring and evaluating a number of items involving ongoing health care issues, including reforms at the federal level that may require or provide opportunities for state action.
At its June 2010 meeting, the Committee will hear presentations on health insurance exchanges that Massachusetts and Utah have put in place. It also will hear more about defensive medicine, childhood health legislation, and other issues related to the federal health care legislation.
As part of this study, the Committee has:
heard presentations on various provisions of the new federal health care legislation, particularly those provisions that will require state action, affect the state budget, or affect Montanans;
discussed tort reform issues, including medical malpractice costs and defensive medicine;
reviewed health care workforce issues, including state programs that exist to educate and train doctors and to encourage doctors to practice in rural areas of Montana;
heard presentations on chronic disease prevention and health promotion efforts, at the state and local levels and within the school system; and
learned more about the plans for increasing the use of health information technology by physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers.
These activities have been based on the study plan adopted by the Committee in June 2009. Based on the information it has gathered to date, the Committee has:
sent a letter to the Department of Labor and Industry asking that health care licensing boards begin to collect data related to primary care practitioners so the state can better plan for meeting health care workforce needs;
sent a letter to the Board of Public Education asking that schools be encouraged to promote good nutrition and physical activity as a way of preventing childhood obesity;
sent a letter to the Montana congressional delegation asking that a freeze on Medicare funding for medical residency positions be lifted; and
sent a letter urging the delegation to consider changes to the reimbursement system used by Medicare as Congress worked on health care reform efforts.