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$17.5M investment made in community-based behavioral health, disabilities care

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News from the office of Governor Gianforte

HELENA — Governor Greg Gianforte announced an investment of up to $17.5 million to increase Montanans’ access to community-based behavioral health and developmental disabilities care.

The investment represents the first allocation of $300 million in funding the governor devoted this spring to reform and improve Montana’s behavioral health and developmental disabilities services systems.

“After decades of applying Band-Aids to our broken systems and kicking the can down the road, we’re making a commitment and generational investment to get Montanans healthy,” Gov. Gianforte said. “I thank the commission for advancing its recommendation and look forward to its impact on the delivery of behavioral health care in Montana.”

As recommended by the Behavioral Health System for Future Generations (BHSFG) Commission, the investment of up to $17.5 million will address a longstanding backlog in forensic fitness evaluations at the Montana State Hospital as well as increase bed capacity at community-based residential facilities.

The first initiative, representing up to $7.5 million, will fund the completion of court-ordered forensic fitness evaluations at the county level. There are currently few options for court-ordered forensic fitness evaluations in Montana, with most conducted by one psychiatrist at the state hospital.

“This investment will boost the number of professionals qualified to perform these evaluations in our communities, and alleviate a growing backlog at the state hospital,” the governor added.

The second initiative, representing up to $10 million, will provide one-time grants to community providers offering behavioral health care or developmental disability services to Montanans. Once awarded, the grants may be used to help purchase or construct new facilities, upgrade and maintain existing facilities, and hire and train staff to increase bed capacity.

“We want Montanans to have access to the care they need in their communities,” the governor said. “With this investment, we’ll expand community-based behavioral health care and developmental disability services to better serve Montanans.” 

As proposed in his Budget for Montana Families, the governor made the $300 million investment and created the bipartisan BHSFG Commission in June when he signed House Bill 872 into law. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork, and championed in the Senate by Sen. John Esp, R-Big Timber.

The BHSFG Commission recommends investments to stabilize behavioral health and developmental disabilities service providers; increase and strengthen the behavioral health and developmental disabilities workforce to provide critical care to those in need; increase availability of integrated physical and behavioral health care; and support the establishment of behavioral health settings and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The commission is chaired by Rep. Keenan and Charlie Brereton, Director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for mid-January.

More information about the commission and its work may be found at:


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