Montana nursing homes face crisis even with governor’s proposed funding increase

EMILY SCHABACKER

Mary Jensen, Debbie Grewell and Sharon Grudzinski chant “no more moving” after being affected by nursing home closures three times in four months.

Elder care advocates across the state have waited anxiously to see how Gov. Greg Gianforte would apply the findings of a nursing home provider rate study to the proposed budget for the next biennium. The anxiety has been heightened by an unprecedented financial crisis this year that resulted in the closure of 11 rural Montana facilities.

The findings of the rate study were presented during the Health and Human Services Interim Committee meeting on Dec. 8. Health department director Charlie Brereton and Medicaid Services Director Mike Randol explained how the governor proposes to fund nursing homes over the next two years.

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The rate study was initiated after legislators approved $2.7 million of ARPA funds to be used for studying the impacts COVID-19 had on vulnerable industries, including nursing homes. Additional modes of funding the rate study and associated work were identified and utilized over the last two years, according to Brereton.

Health department officials repeatedly pointed to the provider rate study

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