Medicaid Expansion ‘Critical’ to Montana Drug Court Success, Judge Says

Nov 7, 2017

The Affordable Care Act, and it’s expansion of Medicaid are making a big difference fighting drug addiction in Montana.

That’s according to multiple panelists at a “Substance Use Disorder Summit” put on by the Montana Healthcare Foundation in Helena today.

"Medicaid expansion has been absolutely critical," District Court Judge Greg Pinski said at the summit.

Greg Pinski
Credit Courtesy of Montana Judicial Branch

He runs drug treatment courts for veterans and adults in Cascade County. Those courts connect people on drug-related charges to treatment and social support instead of punishment.

"If you send someone to the Montana State Prison, you’re looking at an annual cost of about $42,000 a year," he said. "And, oh, by the way, there’s about a 66 percent recidivism rate for someone coming out of prison."

Judge Pinski says that his treatment court has a 3 percent recidivism rate, and costs just 10 percent of a year in prison. Pinski said Medicaid-funded drug treatment programs have a lot to do with the success of the people in his courts.

You can watch a video of the substance abuse summit on Vimeo.