Montanans Protest $8.6 Million In Proposed Cuts To State Department Of Health

Sep 11, 2017

A state legislative committee heard protests over proposed cuts to Medicaid Monday.

The cuts Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services is planning are in response to the Legislature cutting its budget by $8.6 million. They would result in lower payments to health care professionals, and end some case-management services.

Missoula resident Libby Velde testified that losing Medicaid-funded services would be devastating for her family.

"If my children were not getting these services, my son would be in juvie, or state hospital. My daughter would be the same, possibly dead. And if she were dead, I'd be in the state hospital. Please, just please reconsider," Velde said.

The cut in state funding would also mean an even larger loss of federal Medicaid matching funds, of up to $26 million. The federal government pays most of the cost of Medicaid in Montana.

Members of The Children, Families, Health and Human Services interim committee objected to the proposed cuts, saying they did not meet legislative intent. The committee's objection put a six-month delay on the process and led to today's hearing.

More than 100 people lined up to testify, saying the proposed cuts would harm elderly people, those with mental illnesses or disabilities and cause them to need costlier treatment or services or even shorten their lives,

Nursing home operators said they have clients who could no longer afford to live in their nursing homes under lower Medicaid rates. Providers said they couldn't find any other places to cut costs.