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.

Montana hires controversial Medicaid director

By: and - June 2, 2022

Montana, one of only about a dozen states with a fully government-run Medicaid program, has hired a new Medicaid director who oversaw managed-care programs in Iowa and Kansas and championed the idea of having outside companies do the work. Mike Randol took over May 31 as head of Montana’s Medicaid program, which serves 280,000 people […]

Abortion politics leading to power struggles in Montana and beyond over family planning

By: - May 7, 2022

In a busy downtown Bozeman coffee shop, a drawing of a ski lift with intrauterine devices for chairs draws the eyes of sleepy customers getting their morning underway with a caffeine jolt. The flyer touts the services of Bridgercare, a nonprofit reproductive health clinic a few miles up the road. The clinic offers wellness exams, […]

A year in, Montana’s rolled-back public health powers leave some in limbo

By: - April 18, 2022

A year after a new Montana law stripped local health boards of their rulemaking authority, confusion and power struggles are creating a patchwork oversight system that may change how public health is administered long after the pandemic is over. The law, which took effect last April amid criticism of mask mandates and other COVID restrictions […]

Biden administration attempts to appeal to rural voters by boosting rural healthcare

By: - April 17, 2022

As the midterm election season ramps up, the Biden administration wants rural Americans to know it’ll be spending a lot of money to improve health care in rural areas. It has tasked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with delivering the message that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing problems with health care infrastructure in remote parts of […]

Pandemic exacerbates the ‘paramedic paradox’ in rural America

By: - April 9, 2022

Even after she’s clocked out, Sarah Lewin keeps a Ford Explorer outfitted with medical gear parked outside her house. As one of just four paramedics covering five counties across vast, sprawling eastern Montana, she knows a call that someone had a heart attack, was in a serious car crash, or needs life support and is […]

Long waits for Montana State Hospital leave psychiatric patients in jail

By: - March 17, 2022

A woman experiencing delusions sat in Montana’s Cascade County jail for 125 days while waiting for a bed at the state psychiatric hospital. A man with schizophrenia spent 100 days last year in the Flathead County jail on the hospital’s waitlist, at times refusing food and water. A man complaining of voices in his head […]

Dangerous levels of lead found in about half of Montana schools

By: - March 5, 2022

About half of Montana schools that had tested their water by mid-February under a new state rule had high levels of lead, according to state data. But the full picture isn’t clear because fewer than half of the state’s school buildings had provided water samples six weeks after the deadline. For many schools with high […]

COVID aid to protect Montana’s prisons, jails sits unused

By: - February 25, 2022

Last summer, Montana created a list of more than a dozen upgrades for its state prison facilities to protect inmates and staffers from COVID-19 infections, all of which would be paid for with nearly $2.5 million in federal COVID relief money. But the money, part of $700 million in aid to states to detect and […]

States were sharing COVID test kits. Then omicron hit.

By: - February 2, 2022

In a few short months, states have gone from donating surplus rapid COVID-19 tests to states with shortages to hoarding them as demand driven by the spike in cases strains supplies. Last January, North Dakota had amassed 2.7 million Abbott Laboratories BinaxNOW rapid COVID tests from the federal government — roughly 3½ tests for each […]

‘Heart’ of Little Shell: Newest federally recognized tribe to open first clinic in Great Falls

By: - January 24, 2022

Louella Fredrickson has long created workarounds to fill gaps in the spotty medical care available to her as a member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. The 86-year-old uses dollar-store reading glasses to improve her blurry vision because she’s worried about the cost of an eye appointment. And when she needed […]

Some Montana nonprofit hospitals fall short of peers in required charitable giving

By: - December 9, 2021

Montana’s richest nonprofit hospitals receive millions of dollars in tax exemptions each year to operate as charities, but some fall short of other medical facilities in what they give back to their communities to get those breaks. Overall, Montana’s nearly 50 nonprofit hospitals directed, on average, roughly 8% of their total annual expenses toward community […]

Under pressure, Montana hospital considers adding psych beds amid a shortage

By: - September 14, 2021

Gary Popiel had to drive more than 200 miles round trip to visit his adult daughters in separate behavioral health facilities as they received psychiatric and medical treatment. It was 2000, and the family’s only options for inpatient psychiatric beds were in Helena and Missoula — far from their Bozeman, Montana, home and from each […]