Senate advances funding to boost health care in rural communities

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. senators call it a “smart investment” in the health care infrastructure of rural Montana.

Senator Jon Tester and his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee have approved legislation that will give a big boost to three small medical facilities and help expand a nurse and dental training program.

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act includes the following funding:

  • Hot Springs Medical Clinic – The funding will help rebuild an old part of the clinic that is in poor structural condition, and go toward a new building that will include more exam rooms, labs, facilities and waiting rooms. ($300,000)
  • Missouri River Medical Center – The Fort Benton-based medical center will use the funding to help build a new hospital and nursing home. The new facility will include a medical clinic for four medical providers. ($300,000)
  • Salish Kootenai College – The Pablo-based college will use the funds to strengthen the RN and Dental Assistance Program by replacing old computers and adding three portable dental field units to train students in rural areas. ($100,000) 
  • Fort Peck Tribal Dialysis Unit Renovation – The Poplar-based Dialysis Unit will use the funds to expand its operation from ten dialysis stations to 18 stations to meet the growing need in northeast Montana.  ($200,000)

“These are common sense investments in Montana’s health care infrastructure that will keep our rural communities strong,” Tester said. “Health care facilities in rural areas often lag behind urban areas, and these upgrades will help the medical clinics better serve more folks across Montana.”
“It’s very important that Montanans have access to high quality infrastructure, regardless of where they live,” Baucus said. “This funding will go a long way toward strengthening rural medical clinics and expanding nursing and dental programs at Salish Kootenai College. Montanans all over the state will benefit.”
The Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act must first pass the full Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before the funding can be signed into law.

For a full list of funding for Montana under the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act, click HERE.

What is an appropriations bill?
  • A federal appropriations bill funds the federal government.  12 appropriations bills will fund the federal government for the next Fiscal Year.
  • Less than one half of one percent of these appropriations bills consist of congressionally directed funding (also called “earmarks”).  This funding is not additional spending for the federal government, nor does it increase federal deficit.  Rather, it is a set of directions telling the government where it must use existing funds.
  • In the past, appropriations funding had been abused by anonymous requests with little transparency.
  • Since 2007, the process was overhauled to guarantee transparency and fair debate in Congress.
  • All of Tester’s and Baucus’ appropriations requests are online HERE and HERE.