Posted: Aug 31, 2012 5:41 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Aug 31, 2012 8:11 PM
HELENA - November's gubernatorial candidates offered opposite viewpoints on the new government-run health clinic for state employees.
State workers can now see a doctor without paying a dime out of their pockets at The Montana Health Clinic, the first state run health center in the nation. Gov. Brian Schweitzer was a major force behind the clinic's creation.
Republican candidate for governor Rick Hill has some concerns about the new clinic.
Hill spokesman Brock Lowrance says, "Rick believes we need to find ways to reduce health care costs for all Montanans, including state employees - he just does not think a compulsory government program is the way to do it."
Lowrance says Hill will look at the results coming from the clinic, engage the state legislature, and work with state employees to find solutions that will lower costs and improve their health care.
Democrat candidate Steve Bullock says in the private sector these onsite clinics have worked and because it's projected to save money it's an attractive proposal.
His spokesman Kevin O'Brien says, "Steve's family is a perfect example, they love their pediatrician and wouldn't trade him for the world. So it's imperative that we maintain choice - but there's great opportunity here."
One thing to consider is how these added healthcare benefits could make a difference to many state workers who haven't seen a pay increase in four years.
"Rick would make sure that our state employees are properly incentivized. One of his priorities is to bring priority-based budgeting to state government so that every program, activity and expenditure is evaluated on performance," Hill's spokesman said.."
"Steve believes it's the responsibility of the employer to treat their employees fairly and bargain in good faith. That's what he'll do as governor," Bullock's spokesman countered.
With an estimated 22,000 people on the state's payroll, state workers could have a significant say in who takes over the governor's office in November.