The Montana health department faced blistering public comment Thursday on their plan to cut more than $12 million from Medicaid services. Governor Steve Bullock and state lawmakers reduced funding to most state agencies to balance the state’s budget.
The roughly $12 million is part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ continuing work to cut $49 million in spending. That’s more than more than 4.5 percent of its general fund budget.
In Helena Thursday, the department took public comment on part of their plan for those cuts.
Olivia Sears from Missoula has a 15-year-old daughter with special needs who receives services that, under the state’s current plan, will be reduced. Sears works at MTPR.
"So many people are talking about all the money, and I don’t know how it can work. I’m just really asking you to look at it again,” Sears says.
More than 40 people came to the Thursday afternoon hearing. Another 50 called in to listen.
DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan says the department is doing everything it can to minimize the impact of these cuts to spending.
Hogan, a Bullock appointee, blames Republicans for forcing the health department to make these cuts by not voting for tax increases proposed by the governor to fill the state’s budget shortfall.