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Kalispell mental health clinic closes, leaving 200 patients without care

A Kalispell mental health clinic closed its doors in February due to alleged Medicaid fraud. Roughly 200 patients are now without mental health care.

Sunburst Mental Health offered addiction treatment, case management and other outpatient mental health services for Flathead Valley residents.

The clinic had been struggling financially for years due to lagging Medicaid rates, but Sunburst Board of Directors’ Chairman Mark Anderlik said it was Medicaid fraud allegations against an employee that caused the clinic to close in mid-February. He says Medicaid will likely ask the clinic to pay back the money.

“That would have put us out of business. We made the decision to reluctantly and sadly close our doors before anything further came of it,” Anderlik said.

Anderlik also says Sunburst fired the employee after an internal investigation into the fraud allegations. Anderlik says the worker didn’t personally benefit from the alleged fraud, but had been changing billing hours to help keep the clinic’s doors open. Now roughly 200 patients are without care, and it’s unclear whether other local providers will be able to take on those clients.

The Montana Department of Justice says it is investigating the alleged fraud.

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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