May 30, 2023 8:49 am

1 of the state’s most prominent providers of mental wellness and addiction solutions will quickly commence looking for a new chief executive. 

A representative of Western Montana Mental Wellness Center mentioned this week that the Missoula-headquartered organization decided not to renew Levi Anderson’s contract soon after his 5 years of serving as CEO. Anderson’s final day at the organization was Friday, May well 19.

Western has contracted with Cascadia Management Group, also primarily based in Missoula, to enable with the administrative transition for the subsequent two to 3 months. The president of that group, Colleen Rudio, is overseeing Western as the interim executive administrator. She framed Anderson’s exit as a mutual selection among him and Western primarily based on the nonprofit’s need to “look for a distinctive style of leadership” and prioritize collaboration with other wellness care providers. 

“Right now the organization requires to concentrate on their relationships and the organizations in every of their communities,” Rudio mentioned in a Wednesday telephone interview. “Making confident exactly where we require to be, when we require to be there, is truly what I believe the board is focusing on in its subsequent leadership.”

Anderson was not out there for comment prior to publication.

Western, lengthy the backbone of behavioral wellness solutions in communities across western Montana, has faced monetary headwinds for years. The state Legislature in 2017 slashed Medicaid reimbursement prices, especially for case managers, destabilizing lots of Medicaid-dependent providers the year prior to Anderson took the helm at Western. The COVID pandemic elevated staffing strains and overhead price burdens. 

Although the organization has continued to present myriad solutions, like crisis stabilization and Extensive College and Neighborhood Remedy (CSCT) in public schools, Western has also closed applications and lost contracts in current years. In an April interview with KFF Wellness News, Anderson mentioned Western’s outsized scope of solutions has created the shuttering of some applications additional visible. 

“We’ve grow to be the face of the failure of the method for the reason that we’re the only organization delivering these solutions,” Anderson mentioned at the time.

Lawmakers from each political parties doubled down on rising Medicaid reimbursement prices for providers through the 2023 Legislature, bringing new investments up to $330 million in state and federal funds, according to Rep. Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork, the chair of the wellness spending budget subcommittee.

But these provider prices are not however set in stone. The spending budget bill containing the proposed increases, Residence Bill two, has not been transmitted to the governor’s desk and could adjust shape when it is. Gov. Greg Gianforte, who has the energy of line-item vetoes on spending budget bills, was asked in May well by Senate Majority Leader Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Good Falls, to carve out some of the proposed increases to provider rates Republicans and Democrats effectively tacked on through the Legislature’s final days. 

If that occurs, providers will nonetheless see a historic increase in Medicaid reimbursements. But sector advocates say something significantly less than what lawmakers agreed on dangers maintaining neighborhood solutions operating at a loss.

“As with all enterprises, charges have elevated for Medicaid providers at an unusually higher inflation price,” mentioned Mary Windecker, executive director of the Behavioral Wellness Alliance of Montana, in a Thursday e mail. “Since 2019, a lot of solutions for kids and adults have closed for the reason that of the low prices and will require to be reopened at a larger price. The more cash allocated by Sen. Fitzpatrick’s colleagues will be important in reopening these closed applications and reversing the influence on communities of the 2017 spending budget cuts and the worldwide pandemic.”

Western is nonetheless producing modifications to solutions, in addition to its leadership, with a monetary forecast in thoughts. The organization decided this month to turn a residential addiction recovery remedy plan, Recovery Center Missoula, into a reduce-level residential plan, discharging the current 5 residents and laying off eight workers in the method. RCM was the only remedy plan in Missoula licensed as a three.five facility primarily based on criteria from the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Rudio, the interim executive at Western, mentioned the selection was created partly for monetary causes. But she mentioned the adjusted licensure will permit the 16-bed facility to fill its census and shorten its current waitlist. Whilst the organization has not announced more closures or plan modifications, Rudio did not rule out the possibility.

“I will not say that there will not be plan modifications as we go forward, but what I will inform you is that there are no applications we’re searching at appropriate now in terms of eliminations or reductions,” Rudio mentioned. 

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