Montana’s candidates for governor each held a forum with professionals in the state’s healthcare industry this week.
Democrat Steve Bullock and Republican Rick Hill each needed to respond to pretty specific questions from the Montana Healthcare Forum.
The Montana Healthcare Forum has been going on for years. Groups like the AARP and the Montana Chamber of Commerce and insurance companies like Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Montana come together with medical professionals and state lawmakers to talk about problems in state healthcare and potential solutions.
Bullock and Hill each spent an hour separately fielding questions on what they would do to improve healthcare from the Governor’s seat.
The questions ranged from Medicaid expansion to budgeting to community based healthcare. Bullock was more receptive of changes coming under the federal health care law.Hill would rather see Republicans in Washington D.C. overturn it. But, Hill says he would work within the law if that does not happen.
The candidates differed in how they want to address rising healthcare costs. Bullock says it’s through more effective preventive care—getting people to see a primary care physician more often.
“Most of the costs end up dealing with chronic issues and end of life issues,” Bullock said. “Let’s address is through prevention, through screening and through regular screening beforehand so it never gets to be chronic.”
A different position from former Congressman Hill. He says it’s more important to treat chronic conditions before they reach the acute stage.
“Well, preventive care sort of has a mixed bag in terms of what it’s actually accomplished and that’s why I think most people today are focusing rather on chronic disease management and chronic condition management as opposed to preventative medicine,” Hill said.
As for what each man would do first to address health concerns once in office, Bullock says it’s bringing the stakeholders from the Healthcare Forum together again to plot the best course.
Hill says the Department of Health and Human Services would be the first place he would look to cut costs.