It's always nice to start the week with good news, and this morning brought us some really good news about a new program in Billings. This new program trains family practice physicians, something we need a lot more of in Montana!

The Associated Press reports that the program has received a $450,000 grant which was made possible through the Affordable Care Act. This will allow the Montana Family Residency Program to train three additional residents in family practice medicine.The program aims to get doctors to remain in the state, which has been a huge challenge.

The article provides specific details on just how dire the situation in Montana has become:

MHA, an Association of Montana Health Care Providers, said that more than 20,000 Montanans live in counties without a primary-care physician. At least 53 of the state's 56 counties have been designated by federal authorities as primary-care physician shortage areas. There are 10 counties in the state with no physicians at all.

Senator Baucus is on record as being a vocal supporter of the new program. The article quotes Senator Baucus as saying:

This grant is a win for good-paying jobs and healthy families," Baucus said. "We know that folks who see a regular family doctor are more likely to get better care over the long-run, which keeps them out of the emergency room and saves money for everyone. But that can be tough to do when there just aren't enough doctors to go around. Training more doctors in Montana will help us keep more doctors in Montana, and that's what this grant is all about.