thank you for all of your emails, calls, and support during the 2017 montana state legislature!
Here are some updates on important bills and priority issues for older adults and those who care for them, with clickable links. Please note that although the Legislature has adjourned, there are still a few important bills pending in the Governor's Office.
House Bill 2 – Governor’s Budget: At one point, there were nearly $84 million in proposed cuts to the Senior and Long Term Care (SLTC) Budget. Also, Lifespan Respite program funding and new funding to Area Agencies on Aging were not included in the final budget. Sponsor: Rep. Nancy Ballance. Status: After weeks of direct lobbying, social media, email and paid telephone call alerts, no cuts were restored in the House, but the Senate Finance Committee restored about half of the funding. In the final version of the budget bill, the SLTC budget was cut by about $42 million. It passed the House (58-21) & Senate (29-20) and was transmitted to the Governor. Signed by the Governor on 5/9/2017.
House Bill 17 – Increases the Medicaid home and community based waiver slots and assisted living reimbursement rates. HB 17 improves the Big Sky Medicaid program, providing home and community-based services (HCBS) and increases the reimbursement to assisted living facilities, helping people age in place in their own homes, or in a nearby assisted living facility. Sponsor: Rep. Ron Ehli. Status: Passed the House on 3/8/17 (99-0) and Senate on 4/19/17 (46-4). Signed by the Governor on 5/3/17. The HCBS waiver slots were mentioned in SB261-Generally Revise State Fiscal Laws and HB17 funding will be contingent on state revenue in the coming biennium.
House Bill 24 – Provides protections to vulnerable individuals from financial exploitation; no appropriation required. Sponsor: Rep. Ron Ehli. Status: Passed the House and Senate, signed by the Governor.
House Bill 35 – Creates a grant program for training volunteer respite providers. HB 35 provides grants to local groups to train and recruit respite caregivers for those affected by Alzheimer's disease or related dementias. Sponsor: Rep. Gordon Pierson. Status: Heard in House Human Services Committee on 2/6/2017. Tabled in Committee on 2/17/17. This Bill is dead and will not move forward.
House Bill 36 – Fund Alzheimer’s related services provided by AAAs: HB 36 provides money to the MT Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to provide information, assistance, public awareness and direct in-home services for family caregivers of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Sponsor: Rep. Gordon Pierson. Status: Heard in House Human Services Committee on 2/6/2017. Tabled in Committee on 2/17/17. This Bill is dead and will not move forward.
House Bill 70 – Strengthen guardianship services in MT and create WINGS group. HB 70 would create a permanent oversight committee to train and track adult guardians in the court system. Sponsor: Rep. Jessica Karjala. Status: Heard in House Judiciary on 1/16/2017 and then tabled in Committee. The bill was resurrected in Committee, but with NO funding on 2/20/2017. Funding restored on the House floor. Passed the House on 2/25/17 (70-27) and the Senate (40-10) on 4/6/17. Signed by the Governor on 5/3/17.
House Bill 163 – Caregiver Act: Requires hospitals to track the name of caregivers upon patient admission, notify the caregiver if the patient is transferred to another facility or sent home, and give the caregiver instructions for care after discharge. Sponsor: Rep. Geraldine Custer. Passed the House and Senate, signed by the Governor.
Thank you for your interest in advocating for Montana's older adults and their caregivers. You can subscribe to Advocacy Alerts to stay informed. Here is contact information for your elected officials so you can reach out to them with your concerns:
President Donald Trump: (202) 456-1414
Sen. Steve Daines: Missoula office, (406) 549-8198. Click here for a list of statewide offices.
Sen. Jon Tester: Missoula office, (406) 728-3003. Click here for a list of statewide offices.