Government & Politics

State lawmakers want to know more about why the cost of health care keeps rising, and make it easier for Montanans to know the prices for health care procedures up front. The state Legislature says that’s a top priority ahead of the next legislative session.

A group lawmakers, healthcare and insurance representatives charged with studying health care costs and price transparency met for the first time at the capitol Tuesday.

A crowd of more than 50 healthcare workers, patients, and advocates chanted outside the state capitol Tuesday afternoon protesting the Montana health department’s plan to reduce funding for Medicaid services.

They came for their first opportunity to testify before a legislative committee that’s also questioning the priorities of Governor Steve Bullock’s administration as it trims the state budget in the face of a continuing state revenue shortfall.

A state legislative committee heard protests over proposed cuts to Medicaid Monday.

The cuts Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services is planning are in response to the Legislature cutting its budget by $8.6 million. They would result in lower payments to health care professionals, and end some case-management services.

When the Blackfeet Tribe learned its tribal members were about to start receiving payouts from a massive federal court settlement, the tribe wanted to get ahead of some of the problems that can arise when a lot of money floods a cash-based society.

"There was about 150 some million dollars that was injected into this economy here," says Mark Magee, the Blackfeet Tribe’s land department director.

Cui Tiankai
Nate Hegyi / YPR

Last Friday, Republican Senator Steve Daines hosted China’s ambassador Cui Tiankai at a ranch near Belgrade. The two were there to talk beef. In June, China lifted a fourteen-year-old ban on U.S. beef imports. But opening that door was only the first step.

Republican Senator Steve Daines hosted Chinese ambassador Chui Tiankai at a ranch near Belgrade today.  The two were there to talk … cattle. In June, China lifted their 14 year-old ban on importing U.S. beef.

Nate Hegyi / YPR

On Tuesday, the Trump administration rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, giving Congress six months to pass replacement legislation. But as illegal immigration is debated nationally, it’s also affecting a small community in northeastern Montana. 

On the Senate floor Wednesday, both of Montana's senators gave 10-minute speeches about wildfires in Montana.

"Climate change is real, and we can't continue to sit on the sidelines," Democratic Senator Jon Tester said.

Republican Senator Steve Daines focused on, "The mis-management of our federal forests, and these radical environmentalists."

Both Daines and Tester talked about Montana's fires in the context of the nation's attention being primarily on hurricanes at the moment.

The Montana Governor’s Office released its annual labor report today, touting economic growth and strength along with a low state unemployment rate.

Montana Department of Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy joined Governor Steve Bullock in the Capitol Tuesday to release the report.

Emma Kerr Carpenter

Protesters gathered at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in downtown Billings Tuesday to memorialize one month since a man who entered the country illegally was arrested and detained. 

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