Caregivers Protest Against Budget Cuts to Medicaid in Montana
Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is proposing to cut funding to Medicaid, which will result in healthcare providers receiving lower payments for their services. About 100 opponents of the proposed budget cuts gathered in front of the state legislative committee on Monday.
Travis Hoffman, one of the organizers of the protest, said, “There’s a severe caregiver shortage, and people are going without services already.” He added, “It’s just going to make that whole situation ten times worse.”
Montana is facing a budget shortfall after it reported lower-than-expected revenue in the latest fiscal year. Governor Steve Bullock has called upon state agencies to consider slashing their own budgets by up to 10% in order to bridge the budget gap. Dan Villa, the state budget director, says that the government needs to cut spending by as much as $230.0 million in order to keep the budget balanced over the next two years.
The DPHHS is one of the agencies planning to cut its funding to Medicaid in responce to the state government’s funding shortfall.
For caregivers, however, the budget cuts are bad news. Funding cuts at DPHHS will result in healthcare providers receiving lower reimbursement payments from the state. As a consequence, DPHHS will be forced to reduce their service hours and staffing numbers.
The governor’s proposed cuts could force many employees in the sector to face unpaid furloughs, reduced work hours, or—worse yet—layoffs. An estimated nine percent to 11% of positions that are currently vacant would have to be left unfilled.
The biggest losers would be the patients, and the caregivers who directly serve those patients. Those cuts could end high-cost dental procedures, a prescription drug program for the elderly, and a program for developmentally disabled infants and toddlers. Likewise, payments to hospitals and clinics for buying durable medical equipment would be reduced.
The legislative committee is reviewing the issue and is likely to decide on the budget cuts by next month.
“Opponents rally against proposed Montana budget cuts,” 3KRTV.com, September 11, 2017.