Montana, looking to cut down on state healthcare costs, has opened the nation’s first government-run clinic for state employees in a program the Rocky Mountain state’s governor says could ultimately cover a much broader range of people.
Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer says the primary care clinic in the state capital Helena will keep the area’s 11,000 state workers and their dependents healthier while saving the state $20 million over five years.
Under Montana’s separate program, state employees were quickly booking slots for the privately operated clinic, which the state expects to generate savings by reducing duplicate testing for patients and by paying doctors by the hour rather than by the procedure.
“We’re completely full,” Schweitzer said on a recent tour of the facility ahead of its opening, the first of three scheduled to open this year.
Since starting up late last month, the clinic has seen more than 1,000 patients and was operating at 98-percent capacity, his office said.
Employees who use its services will see no change in coverage for visiting doctors outside of the clinic, although it is only at the new health clinic where they will be charged neither a co-pay nor a deductible.