Reflections on 2020

We are all feeling anxious and concerned after the events of January 6th at our nation’s Capital. At this time, more than most, we need to reach out to our families and friends and neighbors, regardless of their politics, and make sure that everyone is okay. The divisions we’ve seen over the last several years in our country must be healed. The only way to do that is to recognize all of us as humans, flawed yes, but still loved and needed. 

“Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it’s been.”
Truckin’ Jerry Garcia

As we end this horrible, bad, no good, rotten year and move into 2021, let’s take a few minutes and review all of the good that we’ve done as a group to improve behavioral health in Montana.

We stabilized our funding!

Thanks to the help of our partners at Montana Healthcare Foundation, AMB West, HOPA Mountain and others, we’ve been able to expand our revenue into non-dues sources. We signed two contracts with DPHHS to conduct trainings for evidence-based outcome measurement tools and rolled those trainings out to all of our members. We implemented the DLA-20 for the Intensive Outpatient SUD Program for adults and the CASII and ECASII for both children’s target case management and home support services. We also received a generous sustainable operating grant from Montana Healthcare Foundation which allowed us to increase the membership benefits that we’re able to offer. AMB West provided us with an invaluable program from Babson College’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Training that created a cohesive board to move forward strategically and united into 2021. Our friends at HOPA Mountain provided countless masks, gloves, face shields, and other PPE to help us combat COVID-19 in our group homes and facilities.

We grew our membership!

We were joined in our mission to ensure that quality behavioral health education, prevention, treatment, recovery support and related services are available and accessible to people, families, and communities in need. The past year, five new members joined us in the good fight: Charlie Health, InStar Community Services, Helena Urban Indian Alliance – Leo Pocha Clinic, Shodair (affiliate member), and Big Sky Care Connect (affiliate member). With their help, we’ll continue to leverage our one voice for action as we work to improve the behavioral system for all Montanans.

We strengthened our partnerships with
Montana DPHHS!

Throughout the year, we continued working with key departments in DPHHS to create programs that better provide a continuum of care for vulnerable Montanans – both adults and children. While we weren’t successful reinstating sustainable funding from the 2017-2018 budget cuts in every program, we did make considerable headway in our goal to provide a system of care:

  • Substance Use Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program
  • Children’s Targeted Case Management
  • Home Support Services
  • Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT)
  • Adult Mental Health Group Homes
  • Waiver Group Homes
  • ASAM Level SUD Homes

We Already Gave!

We launched our We Already Gave Campaign with the intent of letting legislators, the new administration, and the public know that Montana’s most vulnerable must be protected in this 2021 Legislative Session. Too much was lost in 2017-2018 and we’re not in a position to lose anything else if we want to continue to serve Montanans.

We survived the 2021 Pandemic!

Last, but certainly not least, we weathered a worldwide storm that came upon us unexpectedly. Over 83,000 Montanans were sickened by the COVID-19 virus and over 1000 of our friends and neighbors have lost their lives so far. If there was anything good to come of this nightmare, it was that behavioral health and the broken system in Montana came fully to the forefront for all to see. We’re now rolling out vaccines for the virus and we can get to work fixing this system with models that have been proven in other states like the Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers and Systems of Care. As an alliance, we provided support to our members and their clients throughout this pandemic:

  • Provision of PPE to member agencies, either purchased or donated.
  • Reimbursement of PPE costs to member agencies by DPHHS.
  • COVID-relief funding information and expert consultations for state and federal funding available.
  • Coordinated foundations and member support throughout the crisis.
  • Successfully advocated for state funding of behavioral health providers from $1.2B COVID-relief funding.
  • Successfully advocated for a $14M state double-Medicaid payment for Quarantined/Isolated clients in congregate care.
  • Continue to advocate for expanded telehealth and telephone reimbursement after the emergency so we can serve rural/Reservation areas at parity payments for face-to-face in order to incentivize providers to use technology.

And we did it all in isolation, with virtual meetings wearing sweatpants and fuzzy slippers! Here’s to the coming year where we’ll be able to once again travel our beautiful state, hug our friends and family, and work to improve life for all Montanans!

Have a Happy and Healthy 2021!

From all of us at the
Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana