MBLC Announces Cost Containment Recommendations for Healthcare Insurance

With healthcare costs on the rise across the country the Montana Business Leadership Council is recommending a few simple, bi-partisan measures that will aid in lowering healthcare costs for Montanans.

One of the policy measures is to focus on the need for continued flexibility in the regulation of state-specific health insurance provider networks, one of the most important tools insurers have for controlling costs.

"There have been discussions on the national level to try to limit the flexibility of provider networks," said Montana Business Leadership Council Chairman, Fred Thomas. "A one-size-fits all approach aimed at forcing insurance providers to form their networks in accordance with a nationwide set of regulations will only lead to cost increases for those seeking health coverage. We need to focus on promoting flexibility within provider networks and other methods of containing costs."

MBLC has also suggested focusing on coordinated care among the different healthcare providers that a particular patient may see.  Structuring policies to encourage better coordination will result in better healthcare outcomes and control costs.  Finally, MBLC is calling for more transparency and disclosure of the costs of medical procedures and prescription drugs so that consumers can make better-informed choices.

Richard Miltenberger, a co-owner of Leavitt Great West Insurance Services in Helena who helped develop the recommendations states that he hopes these suggestions will be viewed as simple, yet very meaningful changes, that will ensure that small businesses can continue to afford to provide their employees health insurance coverage.

"The ability of insurance providers to be able to establish strategic networks to make health insurance plans affordable for both small businesses and employees is crucial," said Miltenberger. "We need first-rate health care insurance options for businesses and their employees—not more regulations that make it more difficult for small businesses to make ends meet."

Click here to download the Healthcare white paper.


Takeaways from poll results on EPA regs

The Partnership for a Better Energy Future yesterday released the results of a public opinion survey on the EPA's proposal to regulate power plant emissions.  PBEF included state-specific results for Montana; here are a few takeaways from the data:

  • A plurality of Montana voters (49%) are opposed to the EPA's proposal.  That number is stronger than it might initially appear, considering that almost a third of those surveyed were not at all familiar with the EPA's proposal.  So for those who have formed an opinion on the EPA rule, the reaction is overwhelmingly negative.

  • Montana politicians would take a big risk in supporting the EPA regulations—43% of voters surveyed would vote against a candidate supporting the regs, and only 27% said they'd be more likely to vote for a candidate supporting them.

  • Of the top two reasons given for opposition to the rule, the first is obvious: loss of Montana jobs.  Montana's economy stands to get hit hard if the EPA regs go into effect, with energy production being such an important sector of the economy and significantly higher electricity prices affecting all sectors.

    The second top reason driving the opposition to the rule was a little more nuanced.  Montanans are legitimately concerned about the reliability of our power grid.  Potentially taking reliable energy sources out of our energy mix, in particular coal, could lead to brownouts and blackouts.  That would be a secondary hit to Montana's economy—without reliable energy, industry has a tough time expanding and creating jobs.

  • Finally, most voters surveyed (74%) agreed with the statement that "government should weigh all costs/benefits when creating new environmental regulations, while just 15% say the government should improve the environment at any cost." 

    This is one of the key points to this entire debate: we need to weight the potential costs of the EPA's regulation—potentially devastating job losses, 20% higher electricity bills for Montanans, an economic slowdown, a reduction in tax revenue from energy and a property tax shift to homeowners—against the expected benefit of the rule—a 1.5% reduction in global carbon emissions.

    Right now it looks like the extreme position—the 15% who say we should implement this rule no matter the cost—are in charge and driving the process forward.

The six questions MT energy voters need answers to

Energy issues have consistently been listed as top concerns for Montana voters in 2014.  Despite the voter interest in issues ranging from coal exports to EPA regulations, the positions of some candidate on energy issues is still largely undefined.  With two debates scheduled for each of the federal races over a four-day span next week, there’s an excellent opportunity for Montana voters to learn where these candidates stand on energy.

The Montana Business Leadership Council has outlined a series of five questions that are still at least partially unanswered by at least one of the federal candidates on the ballot: