This Sunday, State Representative Shane Morigeau (D-Missoula) entered the race to become Montana’s State Auditor. Affordable healthcare is at the forefront of his platform.
The first time Shane Morigeau tried to ride a bike, he split his head open on a fence.
When he ran inside to show his mom, she made his brother take a look at it. That’s because he happened to have just started nursing school.
“I remember my mom was sitting on the couch, and she’s having him assess the injury,” said Morigeau.
“She’s trying to determine—is this something that’s critical enough to where I have to send Shane to the emergency room and get stitches?” he said.
Morigeau is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and grew up in what he called a low-income household on the Flathead Reservation.
Morigeau said his mom was trying to figure out if she could afford the care. His brother said he’d be fine without stitches, but Morigeau thinks that was a mistake. He said he still has a scar from the incident.
That’s one of the reasons why he doesn’t want any Montanan to ever have to decide between care and finances.
“When you’re already scraping by, and you have a life changing event, that is something that a lot of people don’t understand that can alter the course of someone’s life,” Morigeau said.
The State Auditor regulates the insurance industry and ensures that it’s respecting consumers rights. Morigeau said he would use that power to lower healthcare rates.
But he also wants to make the insurance process more accessible.
When asked if he gets frustrated with insurance companies, he laughed.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “I think people just get very overwhelmed, but when it boils down to it, people just want to know—is this going to be covered?”
He said earlier this year he had to go to the emergency room. He got food poisoning and needed an IV. He has insurance but still ended up with an unexpected bill for over $1,000.
That’s one of the reasons he wants to make healthcare costs easier to understand and anticipate. Beyond health insurance, the State Auditor oversees all kinds of coverage, from car to renter’s Insurance.
Plus, the auditor regulates the securities industry and deals with complaints of fraud or improper business practices.
Morigeau joins Republican Troy Downing in the race. The current State Auditor, Republican Matt Rosendale, has thrown his hat into the ring for Montana’s lone House Seat.
For the Fourth of July weekend, Morigeau plans to attend pow wows around the state to make his stump speech.
Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio News' Report for America Corps Member.