Dear Medical Entrepreneurs: Make Montana Your Home
This week Governor Gianforte officially signed SB 101, sending a message to medical innovators everywhere: Montana is open for business.
“If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day.” – Elon Musk
Montana has long been a destination state for tourists and retirees, but we’re not exactly known as a hotspot for healthcare. That may be about to change because this week Governor Gianforte officially signed SB 101, permanently authorizing Direct Patient Care (DPC) and sending a message to medical innovators everywhere: Montana is open for business.
We’ve championed SB 101 from the beginning, promoting DPC as an innovative healthcare model where patients bypass insurance to pay doctors directly. But while other states authorize DPC only for primary care, Montana is thinking bigger. It is now the first state in the nation to pass a law allowing medical entrepreneurs, disruptors and innovators of all sorts the maximum freedom to use DPC.
Under this new law, Montana could become home to the next Surgery Center of Oklahoma – a clinic famous for embracing the DPC model and complex joint surgeries for prices a fraction of what it would cost under insurance.
Similarly, companies like Walmart have made headlines as they leverage the DPC model to develop retail clinics in their shopping centers. These clinics are scrapping complicated medical billing to offer routine services, checkups and even mental health counseling at their signature “everyday low prices” – focusing on patients who pay with cash. This also greatly increases accessibility, as many Montanans are much more easily able to get to a Walmart than a doctor’s office.
With its new law, Montana could be an attractive testing ground for companies to pilot their retail clinic models.
These are just two examples of the possibilities for healthcare innovation that Montana has now embraced.
So, here’s my message to the next Elon Musk of healthcare: Start your business in Montana.
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Property Tax Mania
- Missoula County is preemptively blaming the legislature if (more like when) they raise property taxes, pointing to a legislative proposal which repeals local option sales taxes on gasoline.
Our Take: The claim that local governments have an issue raising revenue is simply false. Local government tax revenues have been climbing faster than any other level of government for years. In the midst of skyrocketing property values nationally, especially in Missoula, reports show local government property tax revenue is soaring. And don’t forget that Missoula County just received millions in windfall government stimulus in the last year, much of it specifically directed for use on infrastructure. Missoula County seems to be looking for a scapegoat for their lack of fiscal responsibility.
- This week, Governor Gianforte also signed HB 43, a bill which draws from recommendations in the Frontier Institute’s Montana Recovery Agendato permanently eliminate regulations waived during the coronavirus outbreak.
Our Take: Governor Gianforte and the legislature deserve recognition for acting quickly to preserve access to telehealth after the COVID emergency ends by repealing telehealth regulations permanently. Thousands of Montana patients can continue benefiting from telehealth thanks to this bipartisan effort to remove unnecessary regulations. Read our full statement here.
What’s in a Price?
- A recently released study analyzed early results from the groundbreaking federal price transparency rule effective this year, which required hospitals to publicly post their prices for the first time. The study found that many hospitals aren’t complying with the new rule and there are wide variations in how hospitals define “price” in the first place.
Our Take: Unfortunately, hospitals around the country are choosing to pay the penalty rather than let patients see their prices. We noted earlier this year that around half of the major hospitals in Montana were complying with the new price transparency rule. Montana policymakers need to keep the pressure up, because patients deserve to know the cost of their healthcare upfront.