Every day, our team at Shodair hears that more services in psychiatric care are needed for children across Montana. Medicaid expansion allowed services at Shodair Children’s Hospital to broaden the reach extensively and improved the lives of Montana’s children and their families.
Thanks to Medicaid expansion, Shodair’s bed capacity increased 28 percent and allowed increased opportunity for children in crisis to receive lifesaving care. It also provided necessary funding for 32 direct care positions and a 2 percent raise for direct-care staff hospital-wide.
What is important to note is that funding for Medicaid expansion primarily comes from working Montanans who pay a monthly stipend for their health care coverage. This is not a program that is provided at no cost to recipients. In fact, seven out of 10 participants of Medicaid expansion are employed and the majority of the remaining 30 percent have disabilities preventing them from gaining employment.
Caring for Montana families, regardless of ability to cover the costs, was stitched into the fabric of our mission more than a century ago and today we remain committed to that line of thinking. Last year, 73 percent of patients treated at Shodair were on Medicaid and all but 1 percent are from Montana.
We know that children with mental health issues in Montana face many challenges, including access to professionals, transportation and support. At Shodair, we strive to eliminate financial barriers by serving patients regardless of their ability to pay. Six million dollars of free care was provided to Montana families who are economically disadvantage last year alone.
Our community of professionals continue to find ways to provide care to some of Montana’s most vulnerable residents. One benefit of Medicaid expansion is extended telemedicine services to patients across the state so they can receive care and treatment without the cost and hardship of having to travel. By using video conferencing technology, our mental health professionals are treating children with mental health issues every single day. Their care and commitments continues to inspire me.
Shodair employees respond the same way when asked why they love their job. “The kids,” they say without hesitation. That dedication motivates our administrative team, as well as our board, to always be the driving force for decisions that are made to help improve the mental well-being of our community. Medicaid expansion is one critical component to ensure that work happens. I remain hopeful that our elected lawmakers will vote to in favor to continue Medicaid expansion because they believe in our work, can see our dedication and want the children in our state to flourish.
Craig Aasved is the CEO of Shodair Children’s Hospital.
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