State Abandons its Neediest Populations

There must be a better way to save state dollars

By Elizabeth Heine

I write to you as a mother of a 14-year-old boy diagnosed as developmentally disabled with autism. He is receiving treatment at a Devereux Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility in Colorado, where he enrolled in July 2017. Within four months, Montana Medicaid denied reauthorization for his continued stay. This has been a pattern – Devereux is his fourth residential treatment placement. At each one, Montana Medicaid ends funding before he has successfully completed the program. Each time, he has returned home prematurely, only to deteriorate behaviorally and require another out-of-home placement. This cycle seems to me to be a waste of funds, since he is not approved for treatment stays long enough to reach maximum benefit. This cycle is also very hard on him and our family. If Medicaid would just authorize a single, longer placement, Medicaid dollars would actually be saved.

Also, my son had a children’s case manager for more than a year until the Montana Legislature and governor cut children’s case management rates by almost 60 percent, such that the agency could no longer provide the service. David’s case manager had been indispensable in ensuring his proper care, and the loss of this service is devastating.

My son’s story is just one of countless for developmentally disabled individuals who are now, due to budget cuts, abandoned by our state. There must be a better way to save state dollars and jobs while still meeting the needs of one of our neediest populations.

Elizabeth Heine

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.