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LibbyMt.com > News > March 2006 > Mike Leavitt to visit Libby March 10

Mike Leavitt to visit Libby March 10
Senator Max Baucus & Mike Leavitt To Host Community Meeting On Health Care For Residents
March 1, 2006

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt has accepted Montana Senator Max Baucusí invitation to attend a community meeting in Libby on Friday, March 10 to help address ongoing health care and redevelopment efforts following years of asbestos exposure by W.R. Grace.

Baucus invited Secretary Leavitt to Libby to show the Bush Administration official firsthand the "widespread and dire health care situation" in the small northwestern Montana community. Baucus is asking Leavitt to help provide more resources for health care to residents who are sick from asbestos exposure.

The trip will be Leavittís second Ė he visited Libby at Baucusí request in 2004 as then-EPA Administrator. Baucus is the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the health care agency. At Leavittís confirmation hearing before the Finance Committee in February 2005, Baucus extracted a promise from Leavitt, a former Utah Governor, to visit to Libby again.

Baucus has been working to, among other things, secure a commitment from HHS to invest greater resources in Libby, ensure that any asbestos bill in the Congress provides Libby residents with the compensation they need and deserve, and establish a new research facility to develop innovative asbestos exposure treatment options.

Baucus said he also wants to direct more federal resources to the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases, which he helped establish in 2000. The CARD clinic has done a good job providing health care and screening for Libby residents, he said, but noted additional federal dollars are needed to provide more and better care.

"This is a great opportunity for Secretary Leavitt to see firsthand the devastation that W.R. Grace has inflicted on the people of Libby," Baucus said. "Iím committed to doing all I can to help get Libby residents get the health care they need and deserve. Folks are dying in Libby. Itís that simple. And we must do more to help them."

Since news reports first brought the tragedy in Libby to light in 1999, Baucus has helped secure millions of federal dollars for cleanup, health care, and economic development. He was the first high-ranking elected official to visit Libby in 2000, and the March 10 trip will be Baucusí 17th visit since then.

Although Baucus said the March 10 schedule is still being finalized, a community meeting will be held at the Libby City Hall, Ponderosa Room, 2:30 p.m. MST. For further information, people are asked to contact Baucusí Kalispell office at (406) 756-1150.

Related Links:
Montana Senator Max Baucus website

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