Marie Matthews

Ongoing budget cuts mean the State of Montana has ended a contract that paid a big health insurance company $6 million a year to manage Medicaid recipients. That’s more than twice as much as it allocates to the state health department for similar work.

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.

Montana’s state health department is getting ready to take over day-to-day help for 3,000 people with developmental disabilities this spring, after severing contracts with four private contractors.

The department says it had no choice after state lawmakers and the governor cut $49 million out of its budget in November.

Hundreds showed up to testify in Helena against cuts to Medicaid, July 27, 2017.
Eric Whitney

"These are no doubt difficult times."

That’s Sheila Hogan, the head of Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services Thursday. She was kicking off a hearing on a planned cut to how much the department will pay doctors, hospitals and other health workers who take care of people on Medicaid.

As lawmakers continue crafting the state’s budget, officials with Montana’s health department say the state’s Medicaid programs need more funds to keep up with caseloads.