Nancy Ballance

Montana Republicans Want $5.5 Million for Elderly Healthcare Program

Two Republican state lawmakers from Hamilton are asking for $5.5 million to expand a healthcare program.

“This bill is not only a good bill, it may be the most important we have to do all session.”

That’s Representative Nancy Ballance. She and Representative Ron Ehli are teaming up to spend more public money on healthcare services that keep elderly and disabled people out of nursing homes.

Last year, Medicaid, which is jointly-funded by the state and federal governments, spent $44 million to provide assisted living services for 2,600 Montanans. Things like helping them bathe and dress. But Ballance says that doesn’t come close to meeting the demand:

“Senior and long-term care division had 517 people on the waiting list, waiting an average of 187 days. Some obviously had been on the waiting list much, much longer,” Ballance says.

Those are people age 65 and older with disabilities, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. For younger people with developmental disabilities, the waiting list is even longer, Ballance says.