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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Caregivers plead with state lawmakers to increase Medicaid provider rates

Caregivers for the elderly and people with disabilities in Montana are pleading with state lawmakers to fully fund a recommended increase in the Medicaid provider rates.

A study by an independent consultant shows that the state underpays Medicaid providers based on market rates by tens of millions of dollars. Lawmakers commissioned the study and are now considering how to raise the pay.

Providers told lawmakers reviewing the state health department’s budget that if the rates don’t increase, people all over the state will lose care.

Wes Thompson is the administrator at Valley View Homes in Glasgow.

“All we're trying to do is stay open and viable to see what kind of rate that will begin in July, because I’ve gotta tell you, if it’s not good, many, many nursing homes are going to begin a slow, voluntary closure,” he said.

According to the Montana Health Care Association, more than 850 nursing home beds were lost in 2022 due to facility closures, most due to the current level of Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Gov. Greg Gianforte, in his budget, has proposed increasing the pay by about a third of what the independent consultant recommended, calling it a historic investment. Lawmakers are now working to craft their own spending plan.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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