Big Sky Roundup

SB101 moves to final reading in the Senate

By: - January 27, 2021 3:34 pm

Montana State Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings, is reviving his effort to implement an “opt-in” policy for sex education. (Picture courtesy of the Montana Legislature)

A Senate Bill that would clarify that direct provider care in Montana would not be regulated by the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance passed its second reading in the state’s Senate, 35-15.

Bills go through three readings in each house before being passed, with a vote taken after every reading.

Senate Bill 101, proposed by Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings, is similar to ones passed in 2019 and 2017, and allow medical service providers, like doctors or dentists, to charge a membership fee for access to clinics. Because these services are usually limited to scope-of-practice, they would not be treated as insurance and therefore not subject to oversight by Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. However, providers would still be regulated by specific professional practices boards, for example, the board of medical examiners who license physicians.

Proponents of the measure argue it gives patients more control over healthcare costs and allows them to negotiate better prices. The bill was twice vetoed by former Gov. Steve Bullock.

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Darrell Ehrlick
Darrell Ehrlick

Darrell Ehrlick is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Montanan, after leading his native state’s largest paper, The Billings Gazette. He is an award-winning journalist, author, historian and teacher, whose career has taken him to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Wyoming.