Montana Allocates $300 Million for Mental Health Reform: Advocates Stress Urgent Need for Efficient Access

Montana Mental Health Reform

Montana has set aside an incredible $300 million to improve its mental health system in a ground-breaking step.

However, the importance of having funds and speedily accessing resources were stressed by participants at a town hall meeting recently.

Challenges Faced by Montana for Acquiring Resources

The session was organized by the Statewide Behavioral Health System for Future Generations Commission.

It was partnered with Billings Clinic, RiverStone Health, Intermountain Health, and Community Crisis Center. This gave individuals and mental health providers a forum for contributing their views.

Commission members and state Rep. Bob Keenan of Bigfork, Mike Yakawich of Billings, and Dave Fern of Whitefish were present to engage with participants and gather insights.

They expressed their frustration over bureaucratic red tape that comes with obtaining government resources.

“You need to spend as much time expediting the process as you spend on where it goes,” argued Zack Terakedis, executive director of Substance Abuse Connect.

Recently, SAC’s Mobile Crisis Response Team got a crisis diversion grant but is yet to access the funds because there are still some decisions pending on the rules governing this grant” said Terakedis.

“Right now we’re shifting money around from other grants to keep [the program] afloat. We can’t keep waiting on these structural problems.” Terakedis said.

Delayed Reimbursements Impacting Access

Amanda Stonerock who works with non-profits as a consultant discussed how professionals in private practice could be affected by such issues.

She mentioned some reasons why doctors hesitate in taking patients with Medicare, Medicaid, or Healthy Montana Kids including protracted reimbursement periods lasting six months to one-year waits.

However, she became personal when she revealed that she is also a single mother of four though her children get no help from government assistance programs.

Moreover, she narrated about her ordeal under high-deductible insurance plan whereby she paid $900 per month and additional out-of-pocket costs before any coverage is provided.

“We’re leaving the middle class outside of access for services,” Stonerock lamented.

Financial Hurdles in Foster Care

A foster father also spoke on the challenges faced by him when trying to obtain a psychosexual evaluation for his foster son who had been involved in an abuse case.

In order for the family to be accepted into a treatment center, they were required to outlay between $1,500 and $2,400 for the valuation that was not covered by any insurance. But even with payment there was no guarantee of placement.

“How do we make the system financially better for those incapable of paying $2,000 to get a child some help?” asked a worried parent.

Expert Opinion on State Subsidization

“For Montana to deal effectively with the mental health crisis, funds must be earmarked by state,” advised psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Rich who has practiced in Billings since 1971.

“The kind of help these people need is expensive. It’s going to have to be subsidized by the state of Montana.”

Montana Calls for Systemic Reform and Inclusion

Thus, it can be concluded from this standpoint that the hearing session raised awareness on some important matters which would require a reform of the system to address deficiencies in the mental health sector.

The attendees sought for a more efficient way to speed up the process of fund allocation and ensure proper service delivery.

Mental Health Support: Navigating Over Financial Hurdles

This became apparent when Montana decided to make an ambitious $300 million investment in its mental health system with both the size of the resource as well as the speed of getting it being accounted for.

The various obstacles identified by participants in this town hall meeting indicate how complicated and costly it is for people and families in desperate need of policy reforms that will make mental health support more inclusive and accessible.


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  • Montana Allocates $300 Million for Mental Health Reform: Advocates Stress Urgent Need for Efficient Access