MTPR

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Sarah Corbally is an attorney in Helena and previously served as head of Montana’s child and family services division. She’s also on the board of Florence Crittenton.
Corin Cates-Carney

One of the three homes in Montana run by nonprofit organizations that help young moms and their kids stay out of the state’s foster care system closed last week. It was in Billings.

Budget cuts imposed by the state Legislature last year mean the state health department is eliminating more than $1.5 million in funding* for these kinds of organizations, sometimes referred to as "second chance homes."

Jennifer Munger holds a sign protesting state health deparment cuts in Helena, March 1, 2018. Munger says she's recently sober and wants other people with substance abuse issues to be able to get the same treatment she had.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Access to mental health services and addiction treatment, something that has never been great in Montana, could see a significant funding reduction next month as the state health department reduces its substance disorder services.

"If I wouldn’t have had that I probably wouldn’t be alive today. They saved my life," Jennifer Munger says.

Vicki LaFond-Smith, mother of two sons with disabilities, Beth Brennaman, staff attorney with Disability Rights Montana, and Jackie Mohler, staff at Family Outreach at a Helena, MT press conference on Health Department Funding,  Monday, February 26, 2018.
Corin

A group of disability rights advocates are calling on Governor Steve Bullock to immediately backfill some of the more than $49 million in cuts to the state health department made during the special legislative session last year. But, the governor’s office says it doesn’t have the power to do that.

After state health department officials announced they would end all contracts with private companies that help people with developmental disabilities the agency is changing course. Now the department says the department will offer one contract, for the entire state.

Montana Child and Family Services sign in Helena, MT.
Bree Zender

Filings for child protective custody cases in Missoula County are at an all-time high.

The local county attorney’s office last year filed 195 new cases. That’s an almost four-fold increase from just 2011.

Missoula Deputy County Attorney Jessica Finley says many of these cases are fueled by drugs.

Negotiations between the state and companies that help people with developmental disabilities seem to be at a dead end. This after some lawmakers urged the state health department not to end contracts with the companies due to budget cuts.

Health Department Outlines Cuts To Services For Special Needs Kids
Corin Cates-Carney

The state health department is taking the next step to chip away at $49 million in budget cuts. That’s how much Governor Steve Bullock and state lawmakers told the department it had to reduce expenses at the end November’s special legislative session, in order to balance the state budget after lower than expected tax revenues last year.

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

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.

Shards of methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as crystal meth.
Radspunk (GFDL)

Montana’s health department is now sharing with prosecutors results of drug toxicology tests conducted on children suspected to have been exposed to drugs. The Department previously didn’t comply with this state law because they said doing so would jeopardize federal funding.

Health Department Director Sheila Hogan gave regional Child and Family Services supervisors Tuesday the go-ahead to share those toxicology reports with county attorneys.

Test Results
(PD)

At a legislative hearing today in Helena, the state health department faced accusations from law enforcement that it’s not readily sharing evidence that could protect kids who are being exposed to meth.

Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher wasted no time with state lawmakers today in Helena, saying, "one of my passions is kids and I don’t much like bureaucrats.”

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