Montana’s nursing and assisted-living homes sued the Bullock administration Monday to block cuts in rates paid to the homes for Medicaid patients, arguing the cuts imposed this year didn’t follow state law.
The lawsuit, filed in state District Court at Helena, said the state Department of Public Health and Human Services didn’t show the “reasonable necessity” for the cuts or give home operators a chance to “meaningfully participate” in the setting of the rates.
Those omissions violate state law, and therefore the 2.99 percent rate cut imposed Jan. 1 should be blocked by court order, the lawsuit said.
“These rate cuts hurt Medicaid recipients and care providers alike, and the stakes are too high for these kinds of decisions to be made without the public’s involvement,” said Rose Hughes, executive director of the Montana Health Care Association, which represents the homes.
Hughes said the rate cuts, imposed because the state had to cut its budget in the face of lagging tax revenue, were supposed to last only a few months, but the administration decided to extend them through fiscal 2019.
The MHCA and member nursing and assisted-living homes in Missoula, Polson, Glasgow, Shelby and Wibaux are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The suit asks a state judge to declare the rate cuts invalid and order the state to reinstate rates effective before Jan. 1. The rates are set by the state for patients covered by Medicaid, the state-federal program that pays medical-related bills for the poor.