Health

The Secretary of the Veterans Administration visited Montana today, and made an announcement that many veterans will welcome.

At an event in Helena, Senator Jon Tester let the news slip before Secretary David Shulkin had a chance to.

"The VA Secretary is going to announce at some point in time today — I don't want to take away any of your thunder – some rules that he is going to modify to allow rest homes to be built in rural areas. The Butte boys that are here ..."

About 250 people filled most of the bleachers at Seeley Lake elementary school Thursday night to get the latest update on the Rice Ridge fire.

Somewhat unusual for a fire meeting was for the crowd to hear from someone from the county health department about air quality concerns, but Sarah Coefield, an air quality specialist with Missoula City-County Health, said smoke pollution levels have repeatedly hit hazardous levels.

The Department of Livestock and local veterinarians are monitoring an outbreak of severe canine respiratory disease in Montana.

Veterinarians in Bozeman, Livingston, Billings, Butte, Big Timber, Roundup and Red Lodge have reported seeing dogs with coughing, difficulty breathing and fever.

Jackie Yamanaka

Montana’s two U.S. Senators disagree with the decision to abandon work on health care to focus on other legislative priorities. 

Tuesday’s announcement comes after yet another failure by the Republican majority to scrap the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

A new report says that Medicaid expansion has saved Montana more than $30 million in its first 18 months.

"Medicaid expansion continues to be a stunning success for Montana," said Shiela Hogan, director of Montana's Department of Health and Human Services. "There's no denying this."

"These are no doubt difficult times."

That’s Sheila Hogan, the head of Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services Thursday. She was kicking off a hearing on a planned cut to how much the department will pay doctors, hospitals and other health workers who take care of people on Medicaid.

Hundreds of people packed an auditorium in Helena Thursday to protest planned cuts to Medicaid.

"This 3.47 percent cut is devastating," says William Buck, who owns Shepherd's Way assisted living facility in Lewistown.

The three biggest health insurance companies in Montana met with state insurance commissioner Matt Rosendale Wednesday to explain their price increases for 2018.

Later today in Billings State Auditor Matt Rosendale is holding the first of two meetings to get public input on proposed health insurance prices for 2018.

The state has some regulatory authority over health plans sold to individuals and small groups, that’s about 114,000 people in Montana. That authority allows the state auditor to review, but not reject proposed prices by insurance companies.

Doctors in Montana are cutting down on the amount of painkillers they’re prescribing in response to the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse, and that’s having some unintended consequences.

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