Archive for October 4th, 2009

by Pete Talbot

Missoula physician Meg Sarnecki is one of 50 doctors from around the country who are meeting with the President to discuss health care reform.

(You won’t find this news in our local print media. Don’t ask me why. KPAX ran a short piece. I found out about it in the Billings Gazette. Here’s the story by Mike Dennison.)

Doc Sarnecki is in an excellent position to comment on the kind of health care available to uninsured and low-income Montanans. She works at the Partnership Health Center in Missoula. The center is partly government funded and also receives payments from patients on a sliding scale, according their ability to pay. From what I hear vicariously through some folks who work there is that the place can barely keep up with the demand for its services.

I’ve gleaned some quotes from the story:

She’s “pretty happy” with the U.S. House’s bill, which has passed out of committee and awaits action on the floor, but is “much less happy with what (Max) Baucus has put forward.”

Sarnecki said she doesn’t like the Baucus bill because it does not include a public, government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

“I don’t like the idea of mandated, private health insurance without a public option,” she said. “To make that affordable, we need a public option to give people some competition and choice in that matter.”

Baucus’ bill, among other things, would require all Americans without health insurance to buy it starting in 2013, or face tax penalties. The measure also includes federal subsidies to help people with low or moderate income afford private insurance.

Another person, and this one more qualified than most, to join the legions of Montanans who are disappointed with Max’s health care proposal. Come to think of it, one of the few folks who has commented positively about the plan is Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, our only U.S. Representative from Montana. Good company, Max.

(UPDATE — The Missoulian did have this story in Monday’s paper; page one, above the fold. The Gazette beat the Missoulian by at least 24 hours, though.)

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