Posted on

Delays in State Contracts Leave Montana Health Providers Strapped


The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is months behind in paying organizations contracted to connect people to care. The interruption is likely to have lasting effects, even after the state catches up.

By Katheryn Houghton | KFF Health News

Montana health organizations say a state government backlog in paying its contractors has hindered their ability to provide care, and they worry the bottleneck’s ripple effects will be felt long after the money comes through.

Several organizations waiting for contracts to be approved and funding to arrive said that more than 200 private and public contractors across the state government were affected at one point. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services officials acknowledged the delays but would not confirm the total number of contracts affected.

“I’ve never seen it this dysfunctional,” said Jim Hajny, executive director of Montana’s Peer Network, a state contractor affected by the delays. “Something just completely broke down, but there is nothing coming out. Not even a letter to say, ‘Hey, sorry, we’re not going to get the contracts out.’” The state health department contracts with more than 4,000 organizations, including crisis mental health care and other critical local services. Contractors have reported going months without pay; one said it had been nine months. Some have laid off employees, scaled back services, or stalled programs.

By January, the health department ha...