Schweitzer Announces Plan for New Health Clinic

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Thursday that he is seeking bids for contractors to establish a new primary care clinic for government employees, a plan whose details the administration said will depend on the proposals that come in.

Schweitzer said that the state is seeking bids from companies to run a facility that state employees would use for doctor visits. He said it would save money by cutting out health insurance administration and other costs while also improving health outcomes.

The bid request offered Thursday by the state says the program will launch in December with an on-site primary care facility in Helena. It also seeks plans for how it could eventually be expanded to serve employees across the state.

The 87-page bid request calls for proposals to be submitted by April 9. It says the state would lease the medical facility and own the equipment, although it would be operated by the contractor.

Schweitzer last made a splash with health care plans in September, when the governor said he was drafting plans for Montana to run its own universal health care plan with Medicaid money.

Schweitzer said he still plans to seek federal approval for that program. But he indicated that it wouldn’t be possible to implement before his term ends later this year due to federal timelines.

But Schweitzer said Thursday there is time to implement this latest plan.

The governor said on-site primary care clinics have proven to be efficient ways of delivering care and improving the health of employees. But the administration said many of the details will be up to the bidders.

The RFP calls for the bidder to submit a detailed plan on how it would run the clinic. The bids are supposed to include details on the services that would be offered, along with a plan for offering more efficient care.

The Schweitzer administration said employees would keep their current health insurance plan. But the governor said he can envision a day when the state simply paid its own claims and provided more direct care without the assistance of an insurance company.

State employees could continue to see their own primary care physician, although the on-site clinic would offer much lower co-pays as an incentive.