The CEO of Western Montana Mental Health has resigned

One of the state’s leading providers of mental health and addiction services will soon begin searching for a new CEO.

representative of Western Montana Mental Health Center The Missoula-headquartered company said this week it has decided not to renew Levi Anderson’s contract after five years as CEO. Anderson’s last day at the firm was Friday, May 19.

He made a contract with the West Cascadia Management GroupBased in Missoula to assist with the administrative transition for the next two to three months. That group’s president, Colin Rudio, will oversee West on an interim basis. She framed Anderson’s departure as a mutual decision between him and Western that the nonprofit was “looking for a different leadership style” and prioritizing collaboration with other health care providers.

“Right now, the organization needs to focus on their relationships and the organizations in each of their communities,” Rudio said in a phone interview Wednesday. Making sure we’re where we need to be, when we need to be there, I think the board is really focused on the next leadership.

Anderson was not available for comment before publication.

Western, the backbone of behavioral health services in communities in western Montana, has faced financial headwinds for years. In the year In 2017, the state Legislature cut Medicaid payment rates, particularly for case managers, unsettled many Medicaid-dependent providers a year before Andersen took the Western leadership position. The covid pandemic has increased the number of workers and excessive cost burdens.

Although the organization continued to provide a myriad of services, including crisis management and comprehensive school and community treatment (CSCT) in public schools, so did West. Closed programs And Lost contracts In recent years. In an interview with KFF Health News in AprilAndersen said the breadth of West’s services made the closure of some programs more visible.

“We were the only organization to provide these services, so we were at the front of the system failure,” Anderson said.

Legislators of both political parties doubled down. Increasing Medicaid payment rates for providers In the year By 2023, the Legislature provides up to $330 million in new investments in state and federal funds; Rep. Bob Keenan, R-BigforkHealth Budget Subcommittee Chair.

But those provider rates aren’t set in stone just yet. A budget statement containing the proposed increases; House rule 2, is not transferred to the ruler table and can change its shape when it is. Governor Greg Gianforte, who has the power to line-item vetoes on budget bills, was asked in May. Senate Majority Leader Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Fallsto the Record some of the proposed increases to provider rates In the final days of the Legislature, Republicans and Democrats have been successful.

If that happens, providers will still see historic growth in Medicaid payments. But industry advocates say it’s less than what lawmakers agreed to because of the risk of bankrupting community services.

“Like all businesses, Medicaid providers have experienced unusually high inflation,” Mary Windecker, executive director of the Montana Behavioral Health Alliance, said in an email Thursday. Since 2019, many services for children and adults have been closed due to low prices and will have to be reopened at high cost. The additional funding allocated by Senator Fitzpatrick’s colleagues is necessary to reopen these closed programs and reverse the impact of the 2017 budget cuts and the impact of the global pandemic on communities.

Western is still making changes to services in addition to management while considering financial forecasts. The organization decided this month to convert residential addiction treatment program Recovery Center Missoula to a lower-level residential program, leaving five current residents and laying off eight employees in the process. RCM is the only treatment program in Missoula licensed as a 3.5 facility from the American Association for Addiction Medicine.

Rudio, the interim executive at West, said the decision was made in part for financial reasons. But she said the modified permit would allow the 16-bed facility to fill its inventory and shorten its existing waiting list. While the organization hasn’t announced any additional closings or program changes, Rudio hasn’t ruled out the possibility.

“I’m not saying there won’t be program changes going forward, but what I can tell you is that the programs we’re looking at right now are not in terms of elimination or reduction,” Rudio said.

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