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Governor to visit Libby area on Friday

| April 30, 2004 12:00 AM

Gov. Judy Martz will arrive in Libby for a quick visit on asbestos health care issues and an appearance at the GOP¹s Lincoln/Reagan Day dinner on Friday night.

Martz is slated to tour the Center for Asbestos Related Disease, the Montana Asbestos Screening and St. John¹s Lutheran Hospital before meeting with the Libby Health Care Study Group.

The study group was formed just under two years ago to consider how much money is needed to cover the health costs of one Libby patient diagnosed with asbestos-related disease.

³Nobody had a real number,² said Pat Cohan, manager of the CARD clinic. ³The purpose was to try to get the best estimate possible to tell our congressional delegation how much it will cost to take care of Libby asbestos victims.²

Martz was instrumental in securing a grant to hire an actuary, Jim Buck, to work on the statistics.

The group has met through monthly conference calls to get closer to an actual cost, Cohan said.

The meeting begins at 4 p.m. at the hospital meeting room. Martz will make some opening remarks followed by Dr. Michael Spence, the state medical officer, who will give an overview of the progress made by the group.

Buck will give a timeline of the actuary study.

There will be a discussion, led by St. John¹s administrator Rick Palagi, on the health care challenges of the community.

Also, there will be discussion on whether or not to continue the actuary study and what the next steps should be once the cost figures are determined.

And there will be reports from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the CARD clinic, the hospital and data on Health Network of America, the health program administered by W.R. Grace.

Later on Friday, Martz is the featured speaker for the Lincoln/Reagan Day dinner at the Elks Lodge in Libby.