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Montana Health Dept. Seeks to Ax Board That Hears Public Assistance Appeals


By Matt Volz

Montana health officials are asking state lawmakers to eliminate a board that hears appeals from people who believe they were wrongly denied public assistance benefits.

Since 2016, the Board of Public Assistance has heard fewer than 20 cases a year, and very few of those are overturned, but preparing for those appeals and board meetings takes time from state Department of Public Health and Human Services’ staff members and attorneys, according to the department’s proposal.

Getting rid of the appellate board also would help public assistance applicants who are rejected appeal their cases directly to district court, health department Director Charlie Brereton recently told lawmakers. Currently, rejected applicants can take their cases to court only after the board hears their appeals, though very few do so, according to a board member.

“I want to be very clear, with this prop...