As I wrap up my four-year term as your State Auditor, I’m reminded of a common lesson Montana parents teach our children: leave things better than you found them. On a family camping trip that might mean picking up a forgotten piece of litter and leaving behind some extra firewood for the next folks to use. To me right now, it means leaving this office in great shape for our next Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Troy Downing.
When I was sworn in, Montanans were experiencing massive, double-digit health insurance premium increases every year under Obamacare. I worked with the Legislature to enact a reinsurance program to get cost increases under control. Despite a veto in the first legislative session, we got it done the next time and immediately saw the results. Health insurance rates decreased on every single individual market policy from last year to this year, and heading into next year, those lowered rates are largely staying flat.
Our executive and legal teams crafted a groundbreaking approach to lowering prescription drug costs by eliminating some of the industry middlemen’s price gouging and kickbacks. That piece of legislation was also vetoed, but I’m hopeful that a version of it will be enacted this upcoming legislative session. After multiple past vetoes, I took executive action to authorize Direct Primary Care (DPC) in Montana, a system where Montanans pay their doctors directly for routine and basic medical care and take the insurance companies out of the equation. At least seven DPC clinics have opened under the Big Sky since then, offering Montanans access to more affordable health care, and I know the legislature is already working on making DPC a permanent part of our health care system.
It’s not possible for anyone serving as the Montana State Auditor to totally fix the health care system, but I’m proud of the work my team has done to make real, positive moves in the right direction. I know I am leaving health care items under the Auditor’s jurisdiction better than they were four years ago.
The office is also a leaner operation than it was when I was sworn in, doing far more with fewer staff and a more efficient budget. We prosecuted numerous bad actors including big criminal cases cracking down on fraud. I launched the Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force to coordinate our efforts with other agencies and jurisdictions. We helped Montanans recover from hailstorms, wildfires, and flooding, and we educated citizens and businesses on smart investing, cryptocurrencies, and cybersecurity. As a member of the State Land Board, I voted for increased public access to nearly 50,000 acres of land.
When I ran to be your State Auditor back in 2016, I said I’d work to expand access to affordable health care, use my land management expertise on the Land Board, and run a lean operation. That’s exactly what I’ve done. As I leave the office in the hands of Auditor-elect Downing, he’ll have a great foundation to keep building from. I’m also preparing and looking forward to taking on the next job Montanans have hired me for: serving in Congress. There, I’ll continue to fight for more affordable health care, more accessible public lands, and more responsible budgets in my new role as your voice in the House of Representatives.
Matt Rosendale is Montana’s Republican Congressman-elect and outgoing State Auditor.
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