Children, Families, Health, & Human Services Interim Committee

Children and Families Committee to Focus on Health Care Changes, Agency Oversight

Committee: Children, Families, Health, & Human Services Interim Committee
Author: Sue O'Connell
Posted on July 10, 2017

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The Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee agreed in June to focus much of its interim work on changes in state and federal law that could impact health care and human services in Montana.

The committee decided to spend about half of its time on monitoring Department of Public Health and Human Services programs, including changes that could occur if budget cuts are triggered under Senate Bill 261 from this session. That bill calls for a number of reductions if state revenues fall below a certain target on Aug. 15. DPHHS-related cuts include decreases in reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers, cuts to certain mental health programs, the elimination of a planned wage increase for some direct care workers, and elimination of the contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield to administer the Medicaid expansion program.

The monitoring also will include the status of Medicaid expansion in Montana, including the workforce development options that were a part of the expansion package. The 2015 law that allowed for expansion will sunset in 2019 unless the Legislature takes additional action. Committee members agreed that the topic warrants significant attention this interim.

The committee also decided to create a 16-member subcommittee to carry out the bulk of the work on the House Joint Resolution 20 study of transparency in health care pricing. That resolution was the top-ranked study in the postsession poll of legislators. Rep. Kathy Kelker, a committee member who sponsored the resolution, suggested creating the subcommittee and outlined a plan for its work over the interim.

The subcommittee will be made up of two members of the Children and Families Committee, two members of the Economic Affairs Interim Committee, and 12 stakeholders. Committee members agreed that the stakeholders should include the following: a privately insured consumer, an unaffiliated employer, a small group employer, a health insurer, and representatives of the Montana Hospital Association, Montana Medical Association, Montana Taxpayers Association, Montana Chamber of Commerce, a large hospital, a critical access hospital, the State Auditor's Office, and the Department of Administration.

Committee members also decided to:

  • spend 23 percent of their time on the House Joint Resolution 24 study of services for adults with developmental disabilities;
  • devote about 7 percent of their time to the House Joint Resolution 17 study of prescription drug pricing, unless preliminary information indicates the state may have a large role to play in that area;
  • spend up to 7 percent of their time monitoring implementation of changes to the state's medical marijuana program; and
  • leave additional time open to review changes in federal health care or human services policies.

Members also elected Sen. Mary Caferro, D-Helena, as presiding officer and Rep. Dennis Lenz, R-Billings, as vice presiding officer.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the committee will be on Sept. 11 in Room 137 of the Capitol in Helena. The HJR 20 subcommittee will meet the following day.

For more information about the meeting, visit the committee's website at or contact Sue O'Connell, committee staff, at 406-444-3597 or