Senate panel approves funding for better pediatric health care in Montana

Measure will help fund St. Vincent Healthcare’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Billings

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester and his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee have passed legislation that will bring specialists to Billings to strengthen St. Vincent Healthcare’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Tester and Senator Max Baucus announced today.
St. Vincent Healthcare launched its Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, or PICU, in October of 2008.  As the only PICU in Montana and Wyoming, the unit has served hundreds of the region’s most “fragile children”—preventing nearly 200 children and families from having to take expensive emergency medical flights to larger, out-of-state hospitals—often without their parents.

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act includes funding to help St. Vincent Healthcare build on its efforts to recruit pediatric neurologists, oncologists and surgeons to the new PICU.
Dave Irion, President and CEO of the St. Vincent Health Care Foundation, says the funding will also improve the hospital’s pediatric telemedicine outreach.
“Montana’s Senate leaders Jon Tester and Max Baucus have worked diligently with St. Vincent Healthcare to secure grants to expand pediatric services for our most fragile Montanans, our critically ill or injured children,” Irion said.  “These grants have helped St. Vincent Healthcare recruit pediatric doctors to provide very specialized care to Montana and Wyoming kids. We applaud the efforts of our Senators to invest in a mission to help even more of our youngest Montanans heal at home with their family at their side.”
“St. V’s pediatric unit is a tremendous service that keeps Montana at the forefront of top-notch health care,” Tester said.  “The PICU is a smart investment in Montanans, our kids, and the good-paying jobs that keep our economy strong.”
“I’m proud to go to bat for St. Vincent Healthcare because they’ve always had a strong vision for the future of quality health care for Montana,” Baucus said.  “Montana’s kids are in good hands thanks to St. V’s.”
Under the current legislation, the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation would receive $250,000 to ramp up its Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
The legislation 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.