Montana Information

Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | The Billings (Mont.) Gazette, June 21, 2017
Everyone knows the Senate is trying to ram through their version of the GOP House health care bill called the American Healthcare Act behind closed doors and in secret.

Posted on Sunday, April 30, 2017

By Beth Sirr | The Billings (Mont.) Gazette, April 30, 2017
Like fire departments, public roads and the military, health care is a basic requirement for the safety and prosperity of any country. We the People form governments to ensure essential services we cannot afford individually.

Posted on Tuesday, March 28, 2017

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle, March 28, 2017
Policy makers refuse to control the insurance industry. They believe, after more than two decades of failure, the market will control costs by considering health a commodity. That’s the basic flaw in both the ACA and the 2017 GOP American Health Care Act.

Posted on Friday, March 24, 2017

By Michael Sirr, M.D. | Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle, Letters, March 24, 2017
In my 30 years as an ER doctor, the insurance industry never helped me take care of a single patient. They did waste my time.

Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Richard A. Damon, M.D. | The Missoulian, Jan. 17, 2017
Health care is not a commodity to be bought and sold. The purpose of any sane health care system is to keep people well, not to make stockholders wealthier.

Posted on Wednesday, December 28, 2016

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle, Letters, Dec. 28, 2016
In contrast to other advanced countries of the world, health care as a human right is still controversial in the United States. Our market-based system still treats health care as a commodity for sale on the open market with access to care based on ability to pay.

Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2016

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Tom Murphy, AP health writer, recently wrote that millions of Americans have seen the price of their health care insurance go up every year for years. Premiums outpace inflation and wages, and they affect nearly every household member with health issues. He asks, “Does it have to be this way? Why do health care costs grow so much faster than most other spending necessities, and do so consistently?”

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2016

By the Editorial Board | Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle, Sept. 23, 2016
When Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana recently pared back its planned health insurance premium increases from 65.4 percent to 58.4 percent after a state analysis found them to be too high, it begged an important question: If the company can get by with lower rate increases now, why was it demanding so much in the first place? And how much less could it get by with and remain profitable?

Posted on Sunday, July 24, 2016

By Bob Balhiser | Helena (Mont.) Independent Record
This letter is in response to Matt Rosendale's opinion piece whose title asks the question: "Is your health care better now?" Mine is still good, Matt - I have Medicare! And, I think all Americans should have Medicare.

Posted on Friday, July 24, 2015

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | The Missoulian
I am convinced the health care system’s systematic exploitation of the middle class, for the benefit of the privileged few in the U.S., has been purposefully overlooked, underestimated and conveniently ignored by congressional policy makers, major health industry players and health care reform analysts.

Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | The Billings (Mont.) Gazette
Now that both houses of Congress are controlled by the party that has tried to dismantle the Affordable Care Act by selective changes 54 times, what happens to the health care law?

Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | The Missoulian (Mont.)
If you experienced a time when you had no health care coverage, or tire of paying out-of-pocket costs for unpredicted illness, have been financially blindsided by an insurance company, are fed up with escalating costs, or are forced to accept unexpected premium raises in your employer-based insurance, you soon realize that this nation has not been wise in choosing our current health care reform.

Posted on Friday, June 20, 2014

By Bob Balhiser | Independent Record (Helena, Mont.)
Once you become eligible for Medicare you expect your health insurance worries will finally be behind you, right? Well, guess again.

Posted on Monday, March 10, 2014

By Bob Balhiser | The Missoulian (Mont.)
The fact is that we in the U.S. pay about 18 percent of our Gross Domestic Product for health-related costs, while all other advanced countries pay an average of 11 percent GDP. Put another way, that 7 percent difference in GDP in our economy amounts to nearly $1 trillion in annual costs that go to parasites in our health care system.

Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | Ravalli Republic (Hamilton, Mont.)
Medical debt in this nation is rampant. One in three Americans report difficulty paying medical bills. The uninsured have the greatest challenge, but most people with difficulty paying medical bills actually have health insurance. Out-of-pocket medical expenses, before insurance kicks in, contribute greatly to individual medical debt. If you experience it, you know it can be severe and have far-reaching effects on your life.

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013

By Richard Damon, M.D. | The Montana Standard (Butte, Mont.)
If you had choices, would you keep the health care insurance coverage you have if you had comprehensive, accessible, affordable, quality, insurance from birth to death, free choice of physician and hospital, no co-pays, no deductibles, no monthly premiums?

Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | The Missoulian
The greatest scam ever was allowing health insurance corporations to write the federal health law (Affordable Care Act). After enhancing their profits, the government and non-profit groups are marketing their shoddy products. Billions of public dollars have been expended to create new health insurance markets, advertise and solicit buyers. Strange that we would permit this since for 40 years our market-based health care system has not worked effectively or efficiently.

Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013

By Richard Damon, M.D. | The Billings (Mont.) Gazette
On the PBS program, "Nevada Week in Review," Sen. Harry Reid was asked, "If ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it." Reid said, "Yes, yes, absolutely, yes."

Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013

By Bob Balhiser | Independent Record (Helena, Mont.)
I am no fan of “Obamacare” because it allows some 1,300 private insurers to profit from our medical misfortunes. When that many companies have their ‘fingers in the pie’ everyone pays an extra price. We pay not only in dollars but in complexity, as demonstrated by Mike Dennison’s Sunday IR article on the subject.

Posted on Wednesday, August 21, 2013

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Health economist and Professor Gerald Friedman, University of Massachusetts, celebrated Medicare’s 48th birthday by releasing a new study on health care. Analysis shows that a non-profit single-payer system based on an Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, H.R. 676, introduced by Rep. Conyers, D-Mich, and co-sponsored by 45 other lawmakers, would “save an estimated $592 billion in 2014, which would be more than enough to cover all 44 million people left uninsured by the ACA (Obamacare), and upgrade benefits for everyone else.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

By Bob Balhiser | Independent Record (Helena, Mont.)
What are the potential savings from Medicare-For-All done right? Well, the U.S. pays 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product for health care, while other advanced countries with “socialized health insurance” pay an average of 11 percent GDP.o an economic impact study released today.

Posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

By Richard A. Damon, M.D. | Bozeman Chronicle, Letters
The nation should be ashamed that we allowed 48,000 people to die of preventable deaths in 2011. The persistence of 48.6 million uninsured people (2011 Census Bureau) and their related deaths reveals the urgency of enacting an improved Medicare-for-All type system. An untreated preventable death occurred every 11 minutes in 2011.

Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2012

By Dustin Hurst | Montana Watchdog
MISSOULA — As Americans struggle with the rising health care costs, some Montana Democrats say the controversial single-payer system would harness those out-of-control expenses.

Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2011

By Joan McCarter | Daily Kos
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, not willing to wait for the Affordable Care Act to kick in in two or three years, is challenging the federal government to start having a dialogue about real health care reform now by allowing Montana to set up a system modeled on "SaskCare," the Saskatchewan health system, the first universal health care system among the Canadian provinces.

Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2011

Associated Press | Billings Gazette
HELENA, Mont. - Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday he will ask the U.S. government to let Montana set up its own universal health care program, taking his rhetorical fight over health care to another level.

Posted on Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Robert W. Putsch, MD | Letter to the Editor | Helena (Mont.) Independent Record
Health care reform could provide better care at less cost by replacing competing insurance companies with a single-payer health plan. An improved Medicare for All would reduce administrative costs leaving the state with enough funds to provide universal care. Vermont recently passed legislation to move in that direction and Montana would be wise to study this option.

Posted on Wednesday, November 10, 2010

By ROBERT PUTSCH | Independent Record (Helena, Mont.)
Medicaid covers four of 10 births in the U.S. and provides care for one in every three children. Montana can ill afford to expose at-risk families to denials and the profit-making focus of yet another health insurance company.

Posted on Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bob Balhiser | Letter to the Editor | Independent Record (Helena, Mont.)
Max Baucus really talked up his so-called health care “debate” for well over a year. The fact is there was no “debate.” Max’s health care bill was principally written by Liz Fowler, a Baucus staffer and former V.P. of WellPoint, one of the largest health insurance companies in America.

Posted on Thursday, August 19, 2010

Richard A. Damon, M.D. | Queen City News | Letter to the Editor
The four basic system problems that exist in current U.S. health care – costs, affordability, access and quality of care – are intricately related to the alliance of the five biggest players in our failed health care model, namely (a) the insurance industry, (b) the drug industry, (c) the hospital industry, (d) business (e) and organized medicine.

Posted on Friday, March 26, 2010

By George Waring | Letter to the editor, The Montana Standard Thanks for the photo on Tuesday of Sen. Max Baucus straightening Tim Geithner’s tie. That’s the least the senator could do for a most important constituent and campaign contributor.

Posted on Friday, March 19, 2010

Associated Press | The Huffington Post
The Bill preserves language won by Baucus permitting many of the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., to qualify for Medicare benefits. Some of them have asbestos-related diseases from a now-shuttered mine.

Montana State News

Posted on Monday, September 14, 2009

By MIKE DENNISON | The Missoulian
Retired internist Robert Seward, a self-described "Mad as Hell" doctor who wants a publicly funded health system that covers all Americans, told a Helena crowd Thursday that he had a telling conversation with a Canadian citizen a day earlier.

Posted on Monday, April 27, 2009

The Clark Fork Chronicle
Campbell said that Montanans for Single-Payer is convinced the only way to assure quality health care for all Montanans and all Americans is to implement a single-payer system that can contain costs, allow individuals to choose their own doctors, hospitals and other health care providers, and integrate wellness programs throughout the nation's health care. "Currently we have an inefficient, wasteful, and expensive patchwork, not a true health care system," Campbell said. "Only a single-payer approach can provide a true system for health care delivery."

Posted on Monday, March 2, 2009

By BETH SIRR | Helena Independent Record
Sick of health insurance costs? Then pay attention. Some in Congress want to perpetuate the power of insurance corporations over our health care and what we pay to get it. There is an alternative. The U.S. National Health Care Act: Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, HR 676 could be implemented within 13 months (like Medicare was) and unlike the Wall Street bailout, would be funded by eliminating waste while providing a real hand up for every American family and business -- except the insurance industry.

Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2009

by Bob Balhiser | Queen City News, Montana
Now that Tom Daschle is out of contention for HHS secretary, Sen. Baucus seems to think he has an inside track and is teaming up with Sen. Kennedy to push through his plan for health care reform. I cannot imagine a worse outcome.

Posted on Monday, January 26, 2009

By GENE FENDERSON | Great Falls Tribune
We don't really have a "system." What we have is a confused maze of coverage types and providers -- Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, SCHIP, military, veterans administration, Indian Health Service, federal employee coverage, health savings accounts, community health centers, private insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, medical coverage in auto insurance and more. Unfortunately, the Baucus plan simply adds even more layers of confusion to this hodgepodge, which is already driving costs up and up for all Americans. We can do better. We must do better. That is why a single-payer system must be on the table.

Posted on Monday, December 22, 2008

by Bob Balhiser | Queen City News, Helena, Montana
Like the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth", it can likewise be said that too many fingers in the till ruin a health care system. Dr. Putsch has recently done an excellent job of outlining just how much of our health care dollar is spent on administrative costs by citing studies that peg the range between 31 to 38 cents. I think everyone can agree that either amount is out of line and serves to explain why our health care costs have grown exponentially.

Posted on Monday, December 15, 2008

By Robert W. Putsch | Helena Independent Record | Your Turn
Montanans spent $4.9 billion on health care in 2003. If these authors are right, then Montanans paid over $1,600 in administrative costs for every man, woman and child in the state, including the uninsured. That means that only 69 cents of every dollar spent went to health care needs. Remember, administrative costs are passed on to patients, bill by bill, paycheck deduction by paycheck deduction, and even at the pharmacy!

Posted on Monday, December 1, 2008

By MIKE DENNISON | Reporter's notebook | Billings Gazette
When it comes to health care reform in America, there is a relatively simple solution that will cover everyone's basic health care, control costs and save businesses, most people and the country a lot of money.