A group of state lawmakers on Thursday lifted a block on cuts to how much Montana pays doctors and other health professionals who serve Medicaid patients.
In November all but one member of the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee voted to block a nearly 3.5 percent cut to Medicaid payments to health care providers statewide.
The state health department proposed the cut in response to the state’s fiscal crisis, and overall state budget cuts made in this year’s legislative session.
Following the November committee vote, the health department reduced the proposed cut by about half-a-percent - but the committee didn’t immediately OK that change.
Earlier this month, committee member Kathy Kelker, a Billings Democrat, told MTPR News, "The objections are only delaying the inevitable. There has to be cuts in order to balance the budget. And to continue with the rates that are current only creates more debt.”
Now, a majority of the committee has agreed to drop its objections, and allow the smaller cut in Medicaid payments go through, starting on January 1.
That ends weeks of limbo for health care providers, who will have to adjust their own budgets and potentially reduce services to Medicaid patients.
Committee Chair Mary Caferro, a Democrat from Helena, did not support lifting the block on the cuts. She has told MTPR that she’s unsatisfied with the health department’s justifications for its actions.