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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Health Department Announces Budget Restoration 'Listening Session'

More than 40 people came to the DPHHS hearing on Medicaid cuts Feb. 1, 2018 in Helena.
Corin Cates-Carney
More than 40 people came to the DPHHS hearing on Medicaid cuts Thursday, Feb. 01, 2018 in Helena.

Now that improved state revenues mean that more than $45 million is being restored to state agencies, the directors for the state budget and health departments are meeting with health care providers to talk specifics.

Last November Governor Steve Bullock called an emergency special legislative session to address what his administration projected would be a $227 million budget shortfall.

The result was more than $49 million being cut from the state health department.

Now, most of that spending authority will be restored, although it’s unclear yet what health programs within the agency will receive that funding.

Last week, Governor Bullock said a nearly 3 percent cut to Medicaid provider rates would be among the restorations.

“Immediately restore those. So, there won’t be those cuts for the next fiscal year,” he said.

On Wednesday, August 1 at 10:30 a.m. in Helena, the state health department will meet with healthcare providers to hear how they think the restored budget should be prioritized.

The Montana Health Care Association is currently suing the state over the cuts from this fall, which it says violated providers rights to participate in the policy change. Advocates for the disabled announced a similar suit Tuesday.

The state plans to announce more details on the backfilling of agency cuts before September 1. 

Watch a live feed from the DPHHS budget meeting here.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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