Eye on Healthcare

Sep 30, 2011 8:45 AM by Marnee Banks (KXLH Helena)

Montana GOP reacts to Schweitzer's health care plan

HELENA- Republicans in Montana are criticizing Governor Brian Schweitzer's (D) plan to create a state-run universal health care system. Montana Republican Party Chairman Will Deschamps says he wants Montanans to have access to health care but he feels more people should be paying for it.

"It is all about making health care affordable. We as Republicans, we'd rather see that happen in the private sector than government control over health care," Deschamps says.

Deschamps says Republicans generally don't want a bureaucrat in the doctor's office. He says health care decisions are private and should be between the patient and the doctor and not the patient, doctor and the government.

Schweitzer pitched his idea to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Regional Director Marguerite Salazar on Wednesday. He told Salazar to expect a waiver application from the state; he says his office will ask the feds for permission to operate a universal health care system in Montana, instead of implementing all the changes in the Affordable Care Act.

The system would center around community health facilities.

"We will use the physicians and nurses that currently exist in Montana. People will still be able to go to the doctors that they've been going to. They will get still the same health care that they are getting right now, probably a little better, because we are going to have more of these community health care systems available to them," Schweitzer says.

"This universal health care system would be provided to all the federal patients, all the Medicaid patients, and all of the state employees," Schweitzer commented.

Schweitzer says people using private insurance could buy into the program.

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