Helena, MT -

Lawmakers are being told the new state health clinic appears to be helping reduce costs.

The state opened the clinic for employees last summer.

Russ Hill is the administrator overseeing the clinic for Montana's Health Care and Benefits Division. He says the state faces an aging workforce that has led to medical cost increases.

Hill reports that health-care costs last year only increased 3 percent, compared to a 7 percent increase the year before.

He says the clinic is making it easier for employees to see a primary care provider, which helps to identify problems earlier.

It also has resulted in a large drop in the per-visit cost of seeing a doctor.

The state says it has tightened its pharmacy plan, implemented new disease-management programs and put incentives into place.