The Interim Committee of Children, Families and Health and Human Services just released its report, "Wide Scope, Singular Focus Examining Services to Support Montana’s Vulnerable Populations."
By the end of the interim, the committee had approved seven bills for introduction in the 2017 Legislature.
- LC 172, to create a $240,000 grant program to train volunteers to provide respite care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias;
- LC 278, creating financial protections for vulnerable individuals, including people with a mental illness;
- LC 279, appropriating $1.5 million to the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to allocate to area agencies on aging for services to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias;
- LC 280, to increase the number of Medicaid home and community-based services waiver slots and increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for assisted living facilities and memory care;
- LC 281, to create a working interdisciplinary network of guardianship stakeholders and establish a grant program for public guardianship services.
- LC 170 to require Medicaid reimbursement for drug therapy management provided by clinical pharmacist practitioners.
- LC 171 to eliminate several statutorily required advisory councils and reports for DPHHS, as part of its oversight responsibilities for the department.
The committee also made the following recommendations:
- The state Medicaid program should reimburse clinical pharmacist practitioners for providing drug therapy management. The committee approved LC 170 for introduction in the 2017 Legislature to require reimbursement for the services. The committee heard presentations during the interim about the role these pharmacists can play in managing, along with a physician, the medications used by individuals, including people with mental health needs. However, members also heard that few pharmacists are providing the services because they generally aren’t reimbursed for the work. Committee members believed that the clinical pharmacist practitioners could fill a gap in medication management for individuals leaving the Montana State Hospital.
- DPHHS should review and compile information on the degree to which people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias are committed to state facilities, including their length of stay in the facilities and the cost of providing care in institutional settings.
- The 2017 Legislature should support increased funding for medical residency programs to provide a psychiatry training track in Montana. Backers of the proposal told the committee that medical residents often remain in the community in which they complete their residency program, so a psychiatric residency training program could increase the number of psychiatrists available to provide care in the Montana.
- DPHHS and state policymakers should monitor the results of the Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) pilot project that is using teleconferencing to connect clinicians from Billings Clinic, Rimrock, and the Department of Corrections with medical education and care management for offenders under DOC jurisdiction. The pilot project results may provide information on the effectiveness of tele-medicine services, the current availability of such services, the potential for expanded use of Project ECHO or other tele-medicine approaches, and the barriers to using tele-medicine more widely.
Read the full report here.