State Senator Diane Sands (File photo).
Mike Albans

A group of Democratic state lawmakers say budget cuts to the state health department have created a public health emergency. They delivered a letter to legislative leaders and the governor Tuesday asking for emergency funding. 

Hospital monitor. File photo.
Josh Burnham

The hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars that Medicaid expansion is bringing to Montana have added thousands of jobs here and significantly boosted the state’s economy. It’s enough of a boost to pay for Montana’s share of the jointly-funded health program.

That’s according to a new report by Economist Bryce Ward with the UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. He summarized it for a legislative oversight committee Thursday.

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.

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

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.

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.