Delivering quality Health Care in rural Montana

Belgrade News

by Senator Jon Tester

I was born and raised in rural Montana.

In fact, I still farm the same land that my grandparents homesteaded over a century ago west of Big Sandy.

I strongly believe that there is no better place to live, or raise a family, than in a rural community.

Across Montana, rural towns like Big Sandy have so much to offer folks like quality schools, reliable neighbors, and an unmatched quality of life.

But if folks are uncertain whether they’ll have access to health care, they’ll think twice about settling down in our rural communities.

We need healthy families to ensure we have healthy communities.

So I recently brought health care professionals from around the country and Montana to meet in Ennis and discuss the challenges facing rural and frontier health care providers and patients.

My Rural Health Summit was the first of its kind, and we identified some of the barriers that are keeping rural families from accessing quality health care in their communities.

Following the Summit, I turned the ideas raised there into multiple bills, including my Restoring Rural Residencies Act, which will allow Medicare to pay for the time resident doctors spend training at rural hospitals.

If we want more doctors to practice in rural areas, we need to train them in rural areas, and that is exactly what this bill does. 

My bill will increase the number of doctors training in rural hospitals, and it will encourage more medical professionals to stay and work in these communities.

Additionally, I heard from folks who are struggling with the rising cost of caring for an aging loved one.

In fact, across Montana 118,000 folks serve as family caregivers and provide $1.4 billion in uncompensated care each year.

Family caregivers need more support, and that is why I am pushing to create a $3,000 tax credit for individuals who provide daily care for an aging family member.

These additional resources will help families pay for home modifications and medical supplies, as well as help reimburse folks for lost wages and unpaid time off due to providing care.

These are just two of the many solutions that came out of my Rural Health Summit.

As we move forward I will continue to push for common-sense solutions that will improve the health of rural families and our rural communities.

I believe that strengthening health care in rural Montana is critical because the health of our communities depend on it.