Committee wants Legislature to vote on Governor’s ability to create State Employee Health Clinics

A committee of state lawmakers has voted to put a bill before the legislature deciding whether the Governor should have the authority to create a series of health clinics for state employees.

Governor Brian Schweitzer has pitched the state employee health clinics as a way to save money and provide better care.

Helena Republican Senator Dave Lewis says the Governor currently does not need legislative approval to make this move through the budget of the state insurance pool. Lewis wants that to change.

“So the Executive Branch, the Governor and his department can do whatever they want. We just felt major policy decisions in a pool of this importance should be reviewed by the Legislature and so we’re gonna ask a bill be prepared and submitted to the Legislature to require that in the future,” Lewis said.

The committee looking at the issue approved putting it before the legislature by a five to three vote. Billings Democratic Senator Kendall Van Dyk says the Governor has come up with innovative ideas in the health clinic proposal and Van Dyk says he supports the idea. He voted against putting its approval before the legislature in 2013.

“I don’t necessarily disagree with that in principal but I know the tone of this legislature and I know what they’re trying to do which is a backhanded attempt at preventing the governor from getting these facilities underway,” Van Dyk said.

The Governor’s office is in contract negotiations to open a clinic first in Helena then expand to other communities. Governor Schweitzer’s term in office expires at the end of the year.



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