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AWARE Ink Newsletter

Note from our CEO

Dear Reader,

I hope the new year is off to a great start for you. I am eager to see all that 2023 will bring AWARE and the people we serve across the state. As we look ahead, I am excited to share a few things to keep an eye out for.

In addition to the day-to-day care we provide over 4,500 Montanans, AWARE will:

  • Celebrate AWARE Day in April

  • Participate in statewide Giving Days in May

  • Host the 2023 Corporate Congress and Awards Banquet in June

  • Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Early Head Start in Butte

  • Host a charity golf scramble in Missoula on September 27

  • Host a Clinical Leadership Summit (open to the public!) in October

  • And much more.

As our team works hard to prepare for everything noted above, I am currently focused on the 2023 Legislative Session. The work we do in the future will be impacted greatly by the decisions made by the 2023 legislature. I have been actively following and participating in the legislative process, most specifically regarding appropriations bills.

The people we serve need your support and advocacy now more than ever. Mental health needs in Montana are at an all-time high. AWARE’s services help people avoid placements in higher levels of care (i.e., emergency rooms, hospital admissions, detention centers, institutions like the state hospital, out-of-state facilities) and save taxpayer dollars.

These higher levels of care are stressed for resources due in part to them trying to serve people with chronic behavioral health needs. Many of these people are referred to community-based providers like AWARE; however, there are extensive waiting lists for AWARE’s services due to inadequate funding to maintain a viable workforce.

Did you know? To recruit and retain a dedicated workforce, AWARE has increased average wages by 35.5% in the last three years despite the fact that payment rates for our services have only increased 1.1% per year in the last 15 years. This is not sustainable.

The Medicaid rate study commissioned by the 2021 Legislature identifies the rates necessary to pay for reasonable costs to keep the community-based behavioral health system of care intact in Montana.

In collaboration with the Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana, AWARE is asking that the recommendations of the rate study be fully implemented, including an annual cost of living adjustment, to keep the community-based behavioral health system of care intact now and into the future.

Every voice matters. Please call and/or email the governor and your representatives and ask them to support this investment in mental health.

If you would like to discuss how you can best advocate for AWARE and the services we provide, please feel free to contact me here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update and for being a part of the team. I hope to see you at one or more of our events in 2023!


Matt Bugni – CEO

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