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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Uncertainty remains after federal funding for the Montana State Hospital was revoked

Montana’s top health official on Friday said the Gianforte administration is undecided on whether it will try to regain Medicare and Medicaid funding at the Montana State Hospital.

Charlie Brereton, the state health department director, said that while conditions for patients and staff at the state hospital are improving, it could take two years to get the facility recertified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Certification is required to get federal health care money.

The state hospital lost federal funding earlier this year due to patient deaths.

Brereton said he is waiting for an assessment from a consulting firm that will map out the path to federal recertification.

“They will be starting from the ground up, turning over every stone at the state hospital, and before we formally move in that direction [I] want to make sure we are resourced adequately and confident we can get there,” Brereton told lawmakers Friday on the Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee.

Brereton and other state health officials said the state hospital was $17 million over budget this past fiscal year after hiring traveling medical staff and losing the federal money.

Health officials estimate the state will lose $25 million if the state hospital doesn’t receive federal certification within the next two years.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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