It is critical that Washington listens to Montanans during important debates about heath care, jobs, infrastructure, agriculture and veterans.
That is why I have been traveling across the state and holding listening sessions and town hall meetings in dozens of communities. The feedback I receive during these face-to-face meetings helps shape my work in the U.S. Senate.
In my travels, Iíve heard firsthand from veterans in Lincoln County who are rightly frustrated by long wait times when they seek healthcare outside of the VA. After meeting with hundreds of Montana veterans enrolled in the Veterans Choice Program this year, I used their input to write legislation that President Trump signed into law to cut red tape and reduce wait times for rural veterans.
I have been meeting with local doctors, patients, and hospital administrators about the future of our health care system and the rising cost of care. I heard from families who have access to health care for the very first time because of Medicaid expansion, and folks who used to be denied insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition (like high-blood pressure) but now have health insurance. I have taken these stories from Montanans back to the Senate where I am working with Republicans and Democrats to bring down the cost of health care and increase access.
And with commodity prices down across the board, I have held town hall meetings for Montana farmers and ranchers to share their priorities for the next Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is a jobs bill, and it is critical that the next Farm Bill includes priorities from Montana producers that will help our rural communities like Libby thrive.
Over the coming weeks and months, I will continue to hold town halls and listening sessions in every corner of Montana, because the best ideas come from Montanans. Not everyone shares this priority. There are some folks in Washington, D.C. who only hear from their constituents through phone calls and emails. Since my days on the Big Sandy School Board, I have learned that there is no better way to exchange ideas, hear feedback, and hold myself accountable than looking someone directly in the eye.
I know that Montanans are my real bosses, and I want to hear from you. Please keep an eye on my website and Facebook page so you know when I will be in Libby. As always, my door is open to you, and if you have an issue or concern you want raised, please contact one of my eight offices across Montana.
I will continue to put those conversations to action, and make sure that Montanans always have a seat at the table in the U.S. Senate.
Jon Tester is a U.S. Senator representing Montana.