MTPR

DPHHS

The rising number of children entering Montana’s foster care system appears to be slowing after years of sharp increases that burdened the state justice system and the caseload of health department workers.

According to the Department of Public Health and Human Services, the increase in the number of kids in foster care is stabilizing after doubling over the last decade.

Nearly 23 percent of Montana high school students use electronic cigarette type products, according to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
(PD)

Montana’s health department issued a warning Thursday about a popular electronic cigarette they fear is addicting a new generation to nicotine.

The warning comes just five days before Montana voters will decide whether or not to tax e-cigarettes in the state for the first time.

More than 40 people came to the DPHHS hearing on Medicaid cuts Feb. 1, 2018 in Helena.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Health care providers who take care of some of the most vulnerable people in Montana say they’re thankful for state budget restorations, but they hope it’s just the start.

Montana Behavioral Health Alliance Executive Director Mary Windecker testifies at a state health department listening session in Helena August 1, 2018.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio


Access to mental health services, something already hard to get for some Montanans, took a step backward this year because of state budgeting issues.

In the wake of the budget cuts, 10 offices closed and over 100 behavioral health care workers lost their jobs, according to one count by the Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana, which represents more than 30 providers.

Growth in reported influenza cases in Montana since October, 2017
Montana DPHHS

The number of flu cases in Montana continues to climb, with 859 new cases reported last week, the most recent reporting period. A month ago about 500 cases were reported in a single week.

The state health department says influenza continues to be widespread in Montana. So far this flu season more than 5,000 cases have been reported across the state, more than ten percent of those resulted in hospitalizations. Twenty four deaths due to flu have been reported in Montana this season, all but three of those deaths were people age 65 and older.

DPHHS

Eighteen Montanans have died of the flu this season. The state health department says that all but three counties have reported at least one case of influenza, for a total just shy of 2,000 infections statewide.

Department of Public Health and Human Services Medicaid and Health Services Branch Manager Marie Matthews testified, along with other agency leaders, before lawmakers Friday, January 19, 2018.
Corin Cates-Carney

In order to balance the state budget last year, Governor Steve Bullock and lawmakers signed off on $49 million in cuts to the state health department. The department’s response includes eliminating two-and-half-million worth of contracts to non-profits that serve people with developmental disabilities.