By Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service
HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock signed 12 bills into law this week passed by the Legislature, including one that would establish a program called the Caregiver Act, which lays out how hospitals communicate with people caring for patients.
At this point in the Legislative session, the governor has signed 123 bills into law and vetoed three.
The Caregiver Act, created by House Bill 163, requires hospitals to record the name and phone number of a patient’s caregiver when the person is admitted to the hospital. The bill also makes it so that hospitals have to coordinate with caregivers for after care before the patient is discharged.
“Good for the patient, good for the caregiver, good for the hospital and it’s good for the state,” Bullock and Rep. Geraldine Custer, R-Forsyth, who is carrying the bill, said in unison at a signing ceremony Friday.
Custer said the communication from the hospital could mean better outcomes for patients and the facilities.
“If you could keep someone in their home longer, and they don’t need assisted living care or nursing home care, (that’s) way better for everybody,” Custer said.
Bullock also signed a bill carried by Rep. Kelly McCarthy, D-Billings, that allows physician assistants to work as mental health workers in order to address issues of mental health in rural areas. McCarthy said the bill is an access bill.
“It’s really just a simple code change that doesn’t cost any money,” McCarthy said. “It’s a nice way to expand services and it’s an easy win.”
Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.