• Michelle Vered

My legislator’s disappointing work on health care

Updated: Mar 31

Guest column: My legislator’s disappointing work on health care

March 31, 2021 Bozeman Daily Chronicle


I was recently diagnosed with a serious neurological condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. It’s scary to be told that you are losing your vision, but after the diagnosis, the next fear is how to pay for the cost of medical care. Like thousands of Montanans, I am now living with a chronic medical condition. Doctor visits, medications, surgery, and necessary time off work are now a part of my daily life.

I expect my elected representatives to work to reduce the already astronomical costs of healthcare and increase access to health insurance. That’s why I am so disappointed in Jane Gillette, who represents my district of Four Corners, Big Sky and West Yellowstone.

Rep. Gillette has supported bill after bill that would create barriers to accessing healthcare for people with serious health problems. Last week, she introduced HB 676, which makes it harder for people to get health insurance. This additional red tape will - by design - kick adults and kids off of their insurance. I regularly have to spend hours on the phone with my insurance company, the hospital, and others to confirm access to care. Getting diagnosed with a serious condition is hard enough without adding extra paperwork that will only waste taxpayer resources and people’s time.

Healthcare decisions are some of the toughest decisions people ever have to make. I recently had to decide whether to have a surgery that had a significant chance of permanent blindness as a complication. I made that decision after asking my doctors lots of questions, having conversations with my family, and thinking over all the options. Healthcare decisions can be deeply fraught and personal.

Rep. Gillette is a dentist, but as a legislator, she’s been trying to insert herself into highly personal health decisions of people she’s never met. This session, she introduced a bill, HB 229, that would ban ACA insurance from covering abortion care, even in cases of rape or incest. I do not understand why someone with a medical degree is trying to prevent Montanans from getting healthcare.

Deciding on surgery was not the first time I’ve had to make a tough healthcare decision. When I was raped a number of years ago, I turned to Planned Parenthood for care. I was glad to know that I had accurate information about all available options if I had to make decisions about a pregnancy. Rep. Gillette should trust women who are managing extremely challenging circumstances, just as she would trust me and my doctors with the surgery decision I had to make. Healthcare decisions like that are between a patient, the patient’s family, and their doctors. Legislators shouldn’t override these important relationships. Rep. Gillette is out of touch with the issues Montanans care about. The bills that she has championed this session will only make it harder and more expensive to access healthcare. For literal life-and-death issues, we deserve informed, effective solutions, not extremist ideology. I expect more from my legislators. It’s time to #SeeJaneGo. #### Michelle Vered is a data analyst and a constituent of Rep. Jane Gillette living in Four Corners. She was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension in December 2020.