By Missoula Current

Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday signed new legislation aimed at decreasing readmissions to the hospital and improving health outcomes, while saving the state money.

The Montana Caregiver Act, sponsored by Rep. Geraldine Custer, R-Forsyth, gives family caregivers the tools they need to help their loved ones go into the hospital, and as they transition home.

“Helping make sure our caregivers have the knowledge they need helps the patient and the care provider,” said Bullock. “This will lead to better health outcomes and reduced costs.”

The Montana Caregiver Act allows a patient to designate a caregiver in the patient’s medical record when they enter a hospital.

It also requires the hospital to notify and meet with the designated caregiver to discuss the patient’s plan of care prior to the patient's discharge or transfer to another facility.

The measure received bipartisan support.

“This is a trifecta for the state, patients and facilities,” said Custer. “It doesn’t cost the state and it gives the caregiver first-hand information on their patient’s aftercare. This will prevent readmissions and give better patient outcomes in the comfort of their own homes.”

Such legislation has been adopted by 33 states, and supporters believe it recognizes the critical role that family caregivers play in keeping their loved ones out of costly institutions.

The legislation will also help train those caregivers who help with medication, wound care and injections.