image of an old building in Big Sandy, MT catching the evening sunlight. An American Flag can be seen on the building.

June 2023 Update from BHAM

It’s déjà vu all over again!

In 2017, the governor of Montana, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled legislature wreaked havoc on the behavioral health system by cutting community-based Medicaid provider rates.

Now, five years later, we find the most vulnerable Montanans once again in the crosshairs of the battle between the Republican governor and the Republican-controlled legislature. The 2017 budget cuts decimated an already flailing behavioral healthcare system and with the pandemic following closely, we needed to achieve transformation in the 2023 legislature.

And we did!

The 2023 Legislature finished up very close to the goal line of the provider rate study benchmarks. In the first year of the biennium, HB2 allocated about 95% of the benchmarks for providers in adult and children’s mental health, substance use treatment, developmentally disabled, and senior and long-term care. In year two of the biennium, providers would be at 100% of the benchmarks!

Unfortunately, if the Governor doesn’t sign HB2 or if he chooses to veto the provider rate increases with a line-item veto, we will once again be struggling to fulfill the mission of treating mental illness and substance use disorder in Montana. The Governor’s own Medicaid rate study shows the rates needed based on 2019, pre-pandemic costs to provide the desperately needed treatment. There is no danger of over-paying providers if rates are at benchmarks for several reasons:

  • The costs were based on 2019 data with a small inflation increase
  • Inflation has tripled since 2019 and costs have risen for all businesses with that inflation
  • Cost of living in Montana has skyrocketed with no corresponding increase in pay for behavioral health providers
  • Behavioral health agencies have 20-30% vacancy rates due to the inability to pay market rates for providers

Call to Action:

Please contact the Governor’s office and ask him to please sign HB2 with the Medicaid provider rate increases left intact.

Governor Greg Gianforte
P.O. Box 200801
Helena, MT 59620-0801
855-318-1330 (toll free)
Fax 406-444-5529
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Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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