House Democrats introduce bill to pay Community Health Care Providers market rates
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News from Montana House Democrats
HELENA — On Friday, Feb. 17, Vice Chair of House Appropriations Mary Caferro (D-Helena) introduced LC2441, a bill to fully fund community health care providers at the rate recommended by the state-funded Guidehouse studies – a crucial step in addressing the health care workforce shortages across the state and preventing more nursing home closures. Rep. Caferro introduced the bill following a party-line vote in a recent Appropriations Section B Subcommittee meeting, where Republicans voted unanimously against reimbursing providers for the full costs of doing business.
“We know what it’s going to take to solve this problem and we know we have the money to do so. That’s what this bill accomplishes,” says bill sponsor Rep. Mary Caferro. “The question is whether Republicans and the Governor will do what’s right for working Montanans and adequately pay our community health care providers for the critical work that they do.”
Montana is facing a devastating staffing shortage in health care services, including behavioral health care, developmental disability care, and senior and long-term care. After refusing Montana Democrats’ attempts to increase provider rates during the 2021 Legislative Session, the Legislature commissioned a study of reimbursement rates from an outside consultant, to identify the extent to which Montana is underpaying health care providers. The Guidehouse studies found that the state has been underpaying health care providers by tens of millions of dollars annually.
Because of the dramatic insufficiency of provider rates in Montana, 12 nursing homes have closed and at least 857 skilled nursing facility beds have been lost. The State Hospital is so chronically understaffed that the facility lost $7 million in annual federal funding due to health and safety violations.