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Advocacy Needed. Preserving Montana’s Mental Illness Treatment System

By August 17, 2017November 24th, 2020No Comments
NAMI Montana has been working hard on the issues surrounding the impending mental health budget cuts. This is a major issue in Montana and here are some relevant posts if you need to get up to speed.

As described in those links, the cuts in the case management rates could have  catastrophic impacts on access to counseling and psychiatry in Montana’s mental illness treatment system due to the low rates that Montana Medicaid reimburses mental health centers for counseling and psychiatry. These services were previously subsidized by case management rates. That will no longer be possible after these budget cuts.

NAMI Montana is opposing those rate cuts, but we feel it’s important to take steps to protect our mental illness treatment system if the rate cuts do go forward. NAMI Montana has identified the possibility of having mental health centers contract to provide their services through local Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and potentially local Rural Health Clinic (RHCs) as path to making counseling and psychiatry sustainable through the FQHC’s higher reimbursement rate for those services. We have been in initial talks with the Montana Healthcare Foundation about their The Partnerships for Better Health grant program that could provide funding to help communities plan and implement this effort. That grant process is open now, so it’s imperative that communities begin pulling together a team to submit a grant.

Please take a few minutes to send an email to contact your local FQHC/RHC and mental health centers to ask them to take on the challenge of making public counseling and psychiatric care sustainable in your community. Here are links to the contact information for each of these types of facilities around our state.

You can also contact your county commissioners asking them to take on this challenge in your community. County commissioners are integral decision-makers about their community’s mental illness treatment system and they can bring this issue to the forefront. You can find the email address for the commissioners from every Montana county at this link.

We have also included a draft message below if you find that to be a helpful place to start.


Dear ____________,

I am a resident of _____________County. I am concerned about how the State of Montana’s upcoming cuts to mental health case management will impact the ability to access counseling and psychiatry in our county. I am asking you to advocate for the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic (RHC) that serves our county to establish a contract with a mental health center to provide psychiatry and counseling for people with serious mental illness. This contractual arrangement will allow psychiatry and counseling for this population to be reimbursed in a sustainable manner through the FQHC.

NAMI Montana has had initial conversations with the Montana Mental Health Trust and it appears that the effort to plan and establish this kind of contractual arrangement would be eligible for the Partnership for Better Health Grant offered in this grant cycle by the Montana Healthcare Foundation. You can find out more about this grant opportunity at this link.​

Here is the example from the Foundation’s Request for Proposal that NAMI Montana recommends the FQHC reference in their grant request:

Direct collaboration among community agencies (for example, sharing personnel or facilities), such as local health departments, rural hospitals, community mental health and substance use disorder treatment organizations, and community health centers to address a major health issue: Initiatives that seek to address an important health challenge—such as serving the needs of the aging population, reducing childhood injuries, or improving diabetes outcomes—through new inter-agency collaborations. Given the challenges of recruiting health professionals and the limited funding available in many rural communities, health outcomes could be improved if the region’s health-focused organizations sought ways to collaborate and share resources.

Thank you,

__/Your Name/______


The NAMI family in Montana really appreciates your effort. We are going to need all hands on deck in order to prevent these budget cuts from having lasting catastrophic impacts.

Thank you,
Matt Kuntz

Executive Director
NAMI Montana

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