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AWARE Ink Newsletter

Note from Our CEO

Hello Friends,

Goodbye winter and hello spring! Here we are in March already. 2023 has been off to a fast and furious start, particularly with the 2023 Legislature. As I write this note, they are currently on Transmittal Break, but will be back to the action on March 9.

I have been following bills and participating in hearings to advocate for community-based behavioral health. I am happy to share that on February 16, 2023, the House Bill 2 Appropriations Subcommittee for Public Health voted to approve a higher amount for Medicaid provider rates than the governor’s budget.

We are grateful to this Subcommittee for recognizing the need to increase Medicaid rates to come closer to covering the costs to provide community-based behavioral health and developmental disabilities services. The Subcommittee’s approved funding level will certainly help.

We are grateful to each of you who took the time to call, email and/or testify. Your advocacy is making a difference. Your voices are being heard.

We have not yet crossed the finish line. To sustain community-based behavioral health and developmental disabilities systems of care, we continue to urge the 2023 Legislature to fully implement the recommendations of the Medicaid cost-study that the 2021 Legislature ordered, including an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). On Thursday, March 9, The House Appropriations Committee will hear public testimony on Section B of HB2 for General Appropriations. You may sign up to testify here.

Another bill that I am monitoring closely is HB649. This bill was passed by the House Human Services Committee on February 28 and is scheduled to be heard by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on March 16.

To summarize the bill, HB649 will make community-based behavioral and developmental disabilities systems of care sustainable for the future. It seeks to fully implement the recommendations of the Medicaid cost study that the 2021 Legislature ordered.

To say this would be a game changer for us and other providers is an understatement. I encourage you to call or email to support HB649. Click here for a quick reference sheet on HB649 and how to advocate for it. Thank you in advance for your support.

March is an exciting month. For many, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is what they look forward to all year -- particularly in Butte, one of our biggest hubs of services and community we love to call a part of our team. I hope you all have a fun, safe and festive celebration!

The start of spring is around the corner. With the changing of the seasons comes the sense of new beginnings and of course warmth and sunlight which is good for all our mental health after a long Montana winter!

And finally, for sports fans, it is March Madness! This year all of us at AWARE were cheering on the men’s and women’s basketball teams from both the University of Montana and Montana State University. AWARE proudly partnered with Opportunity Bank of Montana to sponsor the Assist Tracker for all four teams. For each assist recorded during the regular season, Opportunity Bank donated $10 to AWARE. The final tally for all four teams was 1,509 assists, resulting in a donation of more than $15,000 to AWARE from Opportunity Bank of Montana! Words cannot express how grateful we are to the incredible team at Opportunity Bank and of course, kudos to the Griz and Bobcats for recording so many assists! It takes a team, and this partnership is proof that we can do amazing things when we work together.

On that note, thank you for being on our team. Your support in the form of advocacy, donations, sharing our story, working for AWARE or trusting us to work with your family is the reason we are able to help so many Montanans live independent lives.

With gratitude,

Matt Bugni – CEO

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