Baucus Appoints Health Care Advisory Council

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – Sen. Max Baucus has appointed a 29-member Montana Health Care Advisory Council to make recommendations for improving the nation’s health care system.

Baucus is asking the panel to hold meetings and conference calls and submit five recommendations to him for improving health care by Dec. 1.

Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he is preparing for “major reform” in the nation’s health care system in 2009.

“I’m excited about this group,” said Baucus. “We have a tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime chance to change health care in America. I want to take Montana to Washington, D.C. to make sure we do this right.”

Council members include physicians, CEO’s of hospitals and county clinics, a pharmacy owner, the director of a tribal health department and health care advocates.

Baucus has also scheduled eight listening sessions across the state this week and next, with each focusing on a different aspect of the health care system, from covering the uninsured, to increasing quality and lowering costs and long-term care.

The meetings are scheduled in Kalispell on Tuesday, Bozeman on Wednesday, Great Falls on Thursday, Helena and Anaconda on Friday, Billings on Oct. 20, Dillon on Oct. 23, Lewistown on Oct. 27 and Havre on Oct. 28.

Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over health care financing. He plans to hold a committee field hearing on Oct. 21 in Missoula to discuss the high cost of health care.