Keep Montana Healthy: Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney Announces Plan to Increase Access to Health Care, Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs and Support Good-Paying Healthcare Jobs for Montanans

MONTANA—Today at a press conference in Bozeman Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, Democratic candidate for governor and his running mate Casey Schreiner announced their “Keep Montana Healthy” plan. As Governor and Lt. Governor, Mike Cooney and Casey Schreiner will work with Republicans and Democrats to pass legislation to increase access to health care, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and support good-paying healthcare jobs for Montanans.

As we continue to navigate through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, access to quality, affordable health care is one of the most important issues facing Montana families. That was true before the COVID-19 crisis, and it’s even more true now,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney. “Which is why today, I’m releasing my plan to Keep Montana Healthy. In addition to doing everything we can to preserve and protect Montana’s Medicaid expansion, this plan outlines big, bold steps Montana can take to decrease the costs of prescription drugs and increase access to healthcare for those who need it.”

Cooney was joined by his running mate, Casey Schreiner. Schreiner is the House Democratic Minority Leader and worked with Republicans and Democrats in the legislature to pass and reauthorize Medicaid expansion, which provides healthcare to nearly 1 in 10 Montanans and has prevented Montana’s rural hospitals from closing.

Montanans can trust that we’ll fight for their health care every day. I’ve seen how broken the system can be, and like most Montanans, Mike and I aren’t multimillionaires from New Jersey,” said Casey Schreiner. “We’ve fought for working families’ access to health care our entire careers, and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do in the Governor’s office.

Cooney and Schreiner were joined by Dr. Cora Neumann, public health expert and founder of We are Montana.

Now is the time to elect a Governor who believes medical experts, not junk science. Now is the time to elect a Governor who will show up for work, not blow it off when inconvenient,” said Dr. Cora Neumann. “Now is the time to elect a Governor who will fight to defend our health care, not work to strip it away. Now is the time to elect Mike Cooney and Casey Schreiner, not Greg Gianforte.” 

Mike and Casey’s opponent, a multimillionaire from New Jersey, is a long time opponent of quality, affordable health care. Greg Gianforte has called Medicaid expansion – which insures nearly 1 in 10 Montanans and has created thousands of jobs – “a disaster.” In Congress, he has pledged to dismantle the ACA “piece by piece.” 

I’ve fought for Montanans’ health care my entire life, and I’ve delivered results. As your next Governor, I promise to fight for your family’s access to quality, affordable health care just as hard as I’d fight for my own,” Cooney concluded.

Keep Montana Healthy Plan

Protect the health and safety of Montanans through the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Require insurance companies operating in the state of Montana to fully cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment.
  • Implement infectious disease standards for workplaces.

Preserve and protect Montana’s Medicaid expansion

  • Preserve Medicaid expansion by vetoing any attempts to weaken Montana’s existing program and supporting repealing bureaucratic barriers to care for eligible Montanans.

Protect Montanans with pre-existing conditions

  • Oppose efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would end protections for 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions and healthcare coverage for 90,000 Montanans through Medicaid expansion.
  • Codify protections for pre-existing conditions at the state level.

Bring down the cost of prescription drugs

  • Allow for safe and legal importation of prescription drugs from Canada by entities other than manufacturers or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Cap the price of insulin copays

  • Mike Cooney will propose a bill to cap copayments on insulin at $50 for a 30-day supply and cover insulin without being subject to a deductible. The bill will apply to both state-regulated commercial insurance and public employee plans and include an emergency refill provision.

End price gouging by Big Pharma companies

  • Mike Cooney will propose the Montana Anti-Prescription Drug Price Gouging Act to discourage drug manufacturers or wholesalers from increasing the list or wholesale prices for certain treatments by requiring manufacturers to justify a 25% or more increase in a drug’s wholesale acquisition price, during a 6 month period, to the Attorney General.

Increase access to behavioral and rural health care

  • Provide for incentives for behavioral health providers; double for rural providers, with preferences for mental health and addiction services.
  • Streamline licensing measures for nurses.
  • Increase support for telehealth and telemedicine in rural Montana.

Increase direct-care worker wages

  • Provide for a wage increase for direct care workers over the next biennium.

Address Native American health disparities 

  • Continue the work of the historic Tribal Health Improvement Program (T-HIP). The Tribal Health Improvement Program (T-HIP) is a partnership between the Eight federally recognized Tribes in Montana, State and Federal governments.
  • Preserve and protect Montana’s Medicaid expansion, which provides healthcare for over 15,000 Native Americans across Montana.

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