Katheryn Houghton

Katheryn Houghton

Katheryn Houghton, Montana Correspondent, is covering all things health care across the state for KHN. That includes health policy and politics, access to treatment and the business of health care. She owes her health reporting start to years spent in daily newsrooms, including those of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Daily Inter Lake. She’s been an Association of Health Care Journalists fellow and a Solutions Journalism Network grantee. She is a graduate of the University of Montana.

On the night shift with a sexual assault nurse in Montana

By: - June 12, 2023

MISSOULA,— Jacqueline Towarnicki got a text as she finished her day shift at a local clinic. She had a new case, a patient covered in bruises who couldn’t remember how the injuries got there. Towarnicki’s breath caught, a familiar feeling after four years of working night shifts as a sexual assault nurse examiner in this […]

Domestic violence shelters move out of hiding

By: - May 29, 2023

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Sara Young packed a bag of essentials, gathered her kids, and fled her home to a refuge: an old, green house that blended in with the neighborhood in this southwestern Montana city. Nothing about the house identified it as a domestic violence shelter — it was hidden in plain sight. Young wasn’t […]

As Montana’s mental health crisis care dwindles, politicians promise aid

By: - April 15, 2023

When budget cuts led Western Montana Mental Health Center to start curtailing its services five years ago, rural communities primarily felt the effect. But as the decline of one of the state’s largest mental health providers has continued, it’s left a vacuum in behavioral health care. It started in places like Livingston, a town of […]

Schools struggle with lead in water while awaiting federal relief

By: - March 11, 2023

PHILIPSBURG, Mont. — On a recent day in this 19th-century mining town turned tourist hot spot, students made their way into the Granite High School lobby and past a new filtered water bottle fill station. Water samples taken from the drinking fountain the station replaced had a lead concentration of 10 parts per billion — […]

Montana lawmakers shy away from amending Montana’s Constitution to outlaw abortion

By: - February 19, 2023

Republican lawmakers in Montana wield a supermajority that gives them the power to ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would break the link between abortion rights and the right to privacy in the state’s constitution. But so far, they haven’t sought to ask voters to make the change, a rewrite that would allow […]

As states seek to limit abortions, Montana wants to redefine what is medically necessary

By: - January 29, 2023

Montana’s conservative leaders, stymied by the courts from passing laws that impose significant statewide abortion restrictions, seek to tighten the state’s Medicaid rules to make it more difficult for low-income women to receive abortions. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is proposing to define when an abortion is medically necessary, limit who […]

A Montana addiction clinic wanted to motivate clients with rewards. Then came the investigation

By: - December 26, 2022

A Montana addiction clinic’s plan to give people with substance use disorders as much as $1,966.50 in gift cards and vouchers to follow its treatment program is raising questions about the use of financial incentives with patients. The tug of war over the effective but largely unregulated tool is playing out in the northwestern Montana […]

Blackfeet Nation challenges Montana ban on vaccine as a violation of tribal sovereignty

By: - November 19, 2022

J.R. Myers’ frustration grew as he read the email: To attend a local economic development council meeting in Browning — the largest community on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana — he had to bring proof he was vaccinated against COVID-19. It was November 2021. Six months earlier, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, […]

Montana backs away from Innovative Hospital payment model as other states watch

By: - November 5, 2022

Montana is signaling it might step away from an innovative way of setting the prices its public employee health plan pays hospitals for services, an approach that has saved the state millions of dollars and become a model for health plans nationwide. The plan gained national renown among employers and health care price reform advocates […]

Montana health officials aim to boost oversight of nonprofit hospitals’ giving

By: - October 2, 2022

Montana health officials are proposing to oversee and set standards for the charitable contributions that nonprofit hospitals make in their communities each year to justify their access to millions of dollars in tax exemptions. The proposal is part of a package of legislation that the state Department of Public Health and Human Services will ask […]

When mental illness leads to dropped charges, patients often go without stabilizing care

By: - September 24, 2022

For seven years, Timothy Jay Fowler rotated between jail, forced psychiatric hospitalization, and freedom. In 2014, the Great Falls, Montana, man was charged with assaulting two detention officers while he was in jail, accused of theft. A mental health evaluation concluded that Fowler, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was unfit to stand trial, according […]

Montana hospitals cut jobs, services as rising costs strain budgets

By: - September 6, 2022

Bozeman Health had a problem, one that officials at the health system with hospitals and clinics in southwestern Montana said had been building for months. It had made it through the COVID-19 pandemic’s most difficult trials but lost employees and paid a premium for traveling workers to fill the void. Inflation had also driven up […]