Tester Discusses Health Care Bill in Billings

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – Sen. Jon Tester told Montana doctors and hospital officials Thursday he wants a health care bill that will allow patients to choose their medical providers and insurance plans and also make coverage affordable.

“It has to be affordable, to flatten that cost curve that’s going through the roof,” Tester said.

Tester made the comments during meetings with doctors and hospital executives at St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic.

Tester was meeting with hospital officials to hear their thoughts about proposed changes to the health care system. Tester said he hopes Congress will debate a bill next month.

Tester, a Democrat, also said he and his colleagues in Washington “want to make it better, not worse.”

“There’s always the potential we could take a step backward, but we don’t want to do that,” he said.

Billings Clinic officials told Tester doctor’s offices should be integrated with hospitals to reduce spending and so physicians won’t have an incentive to turn away uninsured patients. That’s because under that scenario, doctors’ earnings are not tied to the care they provide, hospital officials said.

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