It is time health care is treated as a basic human right in the United States, as it is in nearly every other advanced democracy. All people deserve access to quality affordable health care regardless of where they live. We support policies like Medicare for All and expansion of Medicaid that would provide affordable coverage for more Montanans. Many people 55 and older feel that they are one illness or accident away from bankruptcy. People should not have to choose between skyrocketing insurance prices or going without needed care.
If we want healthy thriving communities, we need to prioritize the health of our citizenry. Our current healthcare system is broken. The emphasis is on the cost of insurance rather than the care of the patient. When people feel they can’t afford to go to the doctor, their illnesses are often diagnosed later, are less treatable and result in higher costs than if they were able to get preventive care or early treatment. Quality affordable health care helps individuals and families access essential primary care, needed specialists, and preventive care.
Rural Montanans face another crisis with the potential loss of rural hospitals, clinics and access to long-term care. Additionally, those age 55 and older are often managing the care of their aging parents. Increasing access to health care includes funding rural hospitals, maximizing the use of telemedicine, extending veterans’ health services, making Indian Health Care Services portable so Native Americans can access health care regardless of where they live.
According to the Montana Budget and Policy Center, 2017 state budget cuts have resulted in a loss of services for our most vulnerable populations. The cuts include:
- A combined loss of nearly $32 million in targeted case management for children and adults with developmental disabilities and those experiencing mental health and substance use disorders.
- Nearly $12 million to in-home care for seniors and people with disabilities living in their own homes, likely forcing more Montanans into nursing home care.
- $22.6 million in reimbursement rates for hospitals and other health centers providing care to Medicaid patients.
- Ending Medicaid’s coverage for some dental services, including denture services.
|Big Sky 55+ will:|
- Support I-185, Healthy Montana, to keep nearly 100,000 Montanans from losing Medicaid coverage, supports long term care for seniors and people with disabilities to live independently and remain in their homes, suicide prevention for veterans, and other needed health care services.
- Support expanding Medicare to cover people 55 and older.
- Support efforts to develop a single-payer health care system to take insurance companies out of our health care.
- Support measures to expand access to telemedicine and expanded broadband internet to rural Montana areas.
- Oppose privatization of veteran health care services.
- Support efforts to reduce disparities in Native American health. (See Native Equity in Montana position statement).