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Healthcare Provider Describes Montana Cuts as ‘Draconian,’ Now Unable to Hire Nurses

Photo courtesy of Jon King
Photo courtesy of Jon King

On Monday, August 18, the Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee for the Montana Legislature will meet to discuss a possible objection to Governor Steve Bullock’s proposed five-and-a-half percent cut to provider payments for those who offer services to Medicaid patients. Consumer Direct Personal Care Chairman Bill Woody says the cuts will lead to reduced services.

“We employ about 15,000 people in 13 other states and we’re located here in Montana, because I live here, not because of the business in Montana,” Woody said. “Frankly, this cut is going to make us seriously reconsider what kind of supports and services we offer in Montana, because it is frankly the most draconian of all of the states we operate in toward Health and Human Services.”

According to Woody, the cuts have already hurt his company’s ability to hire and have directly impacted the services Montana families receive.

“Currently we are unable to hire nurses,” Woody said. “We are given an hourly reimbursement, which doesn’t provide us enough to pay a nurse, to get a nurse to do help to little kids. There were five little kids who were seriously dependent on care from nursing. We weren’t able to provide nurses, so we had to discharge all of them. One of them moved out of state to try to find other care and that kid subsequently died. There are still four that are still alive and we’d love to see them continue with services and support, but we can’t provide it, so we had to withdraw from that program.”

If the Interim committee chooses to object to the proposed provider pay reduction, the Governor and DPHHS may have to work to find a new avenue to cut the budget. The decision isn’t getting any easier as DPHHS is facing an additional 10 percent cut and will also have to find room to gut another $50 million from the budget.

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