Montana Democrats propose $20 million in immediate funding for behavioral health

EMILY SCHABACKER

Montana Democrats are proposing an immediate injection of $20 million into the state’s behavioral health system, saying the system is facing imminent collapse.

Carried by Rep. Ed Stafman of Bozeman, House Bill 248 would direct a portion of the $2.7 billion state surplus toward raising the reimbursement rate for Medicaid-funded behavioral health services in fiscal year 2023.

The amount proposed was generated from data collected for a provider rate study meant to gauge the discrepancies between the actual cost of care and the current Medicaid reimbursement rate.

Findings from the study were published in June 2022 and indicated that a number of services are underfunded by tens of millions of dollars and will need significant investment from the state in order to continue.

As lawmakers debate how much to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for providers this session, the rate study will act as the guiding document, which includes recommended rates, for legislators advocating for or against rate adjustments.

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