More than $45 million of the state budget will be restored under a plan by Governor Steve Bullock. It will unwind budget cuts enacted over the last year that have devastated parts of Montana's health care community.
State budget director Dan Villa says funding for programs for the poor, elderly & disabled, and health care provider rates are part of the restoration package.
“It has been hard," Villa said. "It has been hard on the department. Its been hard on our employees. Its been hard on our providers and the patients most importantly. But we’re making everybody as whole as we possibly can.”
Most of the cut restorations in the governor's proposal will go to the Department of Public Health and Human Services. That’s just over $30 million.
However, that does not restore the entire $49 million the governor and Legislature cut from the agency last year amid a projected budget shortfall.
Some of the key areas targeted by the Bullock administration under this Thursday’s announcement include an across the board rate restoration for Medicaid providers and re-funding assistance programs for people who require behavioral health and developmental disabilities services.
Funding was also restored for new legislation passed in 2017 that provides a wage increase for people who help care for people with disabilities and the elderly.
While healthcare providers and their clients have waited in anticipation for this announcement of budget restorations, which are putting money back into their services, some say long lasting damage has already been done to the programs that help the state’s most vulnerable people.
Villa says Medicaid provider rates will be restored on September 1.