Daines Hails Passage of Medical Innovation Bill

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today hailed the passage of bipartisan legislation to bring medicine into the 21st century: 

“Around every kitchen table in Montana are moms and dads worried about healthcare,” Daines stated.  “This bill helps folks gain access to life saving drugs, provides help for family members struggling with depression and gain access to equipment needed for an elderly parent.  Working together in a bipartisan fashion we took an important step in helping these families.”

S. Kevin Howlett, Director, CSKT Health Department: “We are pleased that the Senate has recognized and supported the need for resources to address the epidemic of suicide in Indian country. We applaud congressional efforts to address the maze of staggering health disparities in the Native American population.”

Alesha Rate President Big Sky Ames: “On behalf of Big Sky Association of Home Medical Equipment Suppliers, I want to thank Senator Daines for supporting the durable medical equipment elements stated in the Cures Act.  The impacts of these cuts have been very detrimental to companies and their patients in our rural communities.  We know this isn’t a long term fix but it will help companies avoid shut down and help assist patients in getting their equipment in the upcoming months.  We look forward to continue working with you on a permanent fix.”

Michael R. Bütz, Ph.D., Federal Advocacy Coordinator, Montana Psychological Association: “The Montana Psychological Association applauds Senator Daines for supporting the 21st Century Cures Act.  This legislation brings forward the work of many across the past four years who have sought to pass meaningful and substantial mental health legislation that would provide essential prevention services, treatment for populations in need, and support for research, education and training.  It is a major step forward for our country, and for our fellow Montanans.”

Lester “Dale” DeCoteau, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Health Promotion Disease Prevention, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes: “The Health Promotion Disease Prevention, Mental Health Department/Suicide Prevention, has witnessed and identified many new opportunities from the support of the previous GLS grant participants and staff.  The cooperative efforts have allowed us identify the needs of our Public schools and their relationships to our local communities in regard to the safety of our children and families, suicide protocols and crises response. The continuation of the grant, with community input, will allow to us to have constant interaction and a continuity of care with everyone, especially our children.” 

Tamara Kittelson-Aldred, a Physical Therapist from Missoula: “I am an occupational therapist specializing in wheelchair seating and mobility, and a mother who for 12 years raised a daughter who required a complex rehab wheelchair.  Adequate funding for specialized equipment makes the difference between life and death, a good life and one of poor quality. This is an investment in real people; we are all only one accident, illness or childbirth away from needing this gear for ourselves or a loved one.” 

Dick Brown, President and CEO, Montana Hospital Association: “MHA applauds passage of the Cures bill. It includes important provisions that give rural health care providers flexibility in how they deliver health care in their communities. It also takes a good first step toward improving access to mental health services in our state. We look forward to continuing our work with the Montana congressional delegation to address the challenges we face in ensuring that Montanans have access to high quality health care.” 

The 21st Century CURES Act supports Montana’s healthcare priorities: 

Protects rural Montana providers by:

  • Grandfathering Hospital Outpatient Departments that were being built when the site-neutral provision went into effect.
  • Protects access to care in critical access hospitals by prohibiting the Medicare direct supervision rule for 2016.
  •  Protects access to durable medical equipment and complex rehabilitation technology for rural Medicare beneficiaries by delaying competitive bidding pricing and requiring that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) take into consideration the unique challenges of providing rural healthcare.  

Helping mental health in Montana:

  • Raises the level of priority for dealing with the mental health crisis by establishing an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to heat the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Prioritizes community-based and other mental health services, increasing research, and making sure that research findings and evidence-based practices are getting to providers to improve treatment and prevention services.
  • Gives states more flexibility in using mental health block grants and strengthens community-based resources.
  • Provides resources for mental health care by reauthorizing numerous grants and programs, including:
    • Grants to support integrated care models for primary care and behavioral health that have helped numerous community health centers across Montana to integrate care.
    • Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to support suicide prevention training and the Youth Suicide Early Intervention and Prevention Strategies grants to states and tribes. The Confederated Salish Kootenai and Fort Peck tribes currently have active grants to provide support for tribal youth. Both Montana State University and University of Montana also have active grants to support Montana’s youth. Previous Montana grant recipients include the Chippewa Cree Tribe, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, and the Northern Cheyenne Board of Health.
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Program and National Treatment Referral Routing Service.
  • Creates a drug and mental health court pilot program which will function similar to veterans court so that individuals can be diverted from jail and into treatment for mental health and drug addiction.

Streamlines FDA by modernizing clinic trials and putting patients at the heart of the regulatory review process: 

  • Incentivizes the development of new drugs, including for pediatric diseases and medical countermeasures, and empowers FDA to utilize flexible approaches, in reviewing medical devices that represent breakthrough technologies.
  • Strengthens Medical Countermeasures Innovation by streamlining public-private partnerships and providing stability for innovators like GSK that manufacturers an adjuvant in Hamilton.


  • Increases Medicare price transparency by allowing beneficiaries to shop for the most cost-effective treatments to be able to control out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Increases accountability and oversight for Medicare vendors and supports increasing the efficiency in use of technology, such as electronic health records.
  • Promotes the use of telehealth in Medicare by requiring CMS and other agencies to develop long-term solutions for telehealth.
    • This year, Billings Clinic launched the Montana-based Project ECHO hub to in an effort to address a lack of access to mental health and substance abuse resources. This connects rural providers with a team of specialists to be able to collaborate, share case studies, and offer support. The hub is built to be flexible to allow its design to be used for tele-clinics in any topic or disease. It also allows Montana’s providers to collaborate with experts and specialists at academic centers like the University of Washington and the University of New Mexico to disseminate evidence-based practices in psychiatry and addictions.

Small business healthcare:

  • Supports Small Businesses in their options for providing health care allowing them to reimburse employees for purchasing their own insurance.