As a local citizen, a fifth-generation Montanan, and also as a professional in the field of behavioral health, I am writing to share my support for Medicaid expansion in Montana.
Why should we support Medicaid expansion? In 2015, mental and behavioral health was determined as a top three concern for residents, as reported in the Flathead Valley Community Health Needs Assessment. Since then, health care providers have worked with local nonprofits to increase access to behavioral health, address needs in schools, and work with at-risk populations such as veterans to provide access to mental and behavioral health resources.
What has made the most difference in providing more access is the Medicaid expansion program, which passed in 2015. Now, people who wouldn’t have had access to these resources can, and are, getting the help they need. This allows payment for services provided by the organizations that provide these services and benefits the community overall.
Just in the Flathead County, with Medicaid expansion, providers have treated 2,577 mental health outpatient cases and 364 inpatient cases, according to the Department of Public Health and Human Services. We are partnering together on this major issue in Montana – we don’t want to be the state with the highest number of suicides, and it takes a village to change this horrific truth.
I’ve also had the privilege to work with veterans in our state in a mental health capacity. Seeing our honored service members get the healthcare they need – for mental and physical health – through outsourced Veterans Affairs services or Medicaid expansion and get back to a better quality of life makes me feel like we do have the opportunity to thank them for their service.
I support Medicaid expansion because I’ve seen what it can do for our community, our veterans, and our greatest health needs.
Deven D. Robinson