"It is a scary time with the idea of the Affordable Care Act going away and not knowing what that could look like," said
So far, 71,000 Montanans have gained health covered through the expansion. More than 7,000 of those enrollees are
Current legislation that would unravel the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," would cut off federal funding for new expansion enrollees in 2020. It would also set limits on how much each state receives for its
Throughout the 2016 national elections,
"We all know the Affordable Care Act is not perfect," Conti said. "But to be able to increase people's ability to seek help is important."
A report released by
Conti said the mental health center in
"When our folks are able to get access to care because they have coverage, that means they aren't in emergency rooms, they aren't going to the state hospital as high-utilizers ... it's had a huge impact in them being able to afford their medications," she said.
IN A RECENT interview,
"There are 71,000 people enrolled in the expansion," she said. "So now people who are chemically-dependant, we can actually provide that paid treatment for them."
"Before ... mentally ill adults had to qualify for a waiver, be pregnant or parenting or be disabled to get access to
Prior to expansion, limited state dollars were used to provide mental health services through the state's Mental Health Services Plan. The plan extended to Montanans with a serious and disabling mental illness who couldn't afford insurance and fell short of qualifying for
In fiscal year 2015, prior to expansion, the state spent more than
Hogan said the department is having "a lot of discussions" on what shape health reform may take. But for now, she said it's too early to know what might happen.
"We're looking at everything," she said.
CONTI said before the expansion, many of her clients relied on the state's Mental Health Services Plan. But she said when the plan's funding dried up toward the end of each year, the center often absorbed the cost of treatment for patients who couldn't afford to pay.
She said if
"Without that, it obviously makes it hard for us to provide services," she said. "If that funding is reduced or gone, we'd have to look for another plan -- but we're a business too. As much as what we do is good work, we still have to be able to keep the doors open."
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