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2017 Special Election Health Care Missoula Montana Politics

This is what budget cuts look like

Written by Pete Talbot

They’re just the mentally ill. No big deal.

Ten days before Christmas, mental health care providers in Missoula received layoff slips, according to MTPR.

Western Montana Mental Health said it can’t confirm the exact number of layoffs until Tuesday, but that, “up to 50” employees would not be an unreasonable estimate.

Montana’s Health and Human Services Department provides much of the funding for the mental health center. The department took the brunt of the budget cuts mandated by Republican lawmakers in the 2017 special session. As many as 200 clients could be affected, probably more. Here’s what one provider says on Facebook:

What I have been most struck by, in the last few days, is how consistently the main concern of my co-workers has been what will happen to our clients. This is a group of people who are being laid off a week after Christmas and that is what is uppermost in their thoughts.

And from another provider:

Rehab aide, Lisa Leon, predicts the layoffs will lead to more mentally ill people winding up on the streets, in hospitals, or in jail. Since Thursday’s announced layoffs, Leon says one client tried to commit suicide.

“Thankfully he wasn’t successful. I’m sorry, but if any of them are successful, the blood is on Western Montana (Mental Health center’s) hands and Governor Bullock and the Legislature. They were messing around with people’s lives. I don’t think they understand how many people they’re affecting with these cuts,” Leon says.

Hope you’re having Happy Holidays, Montana GOP Legislators.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.