Judge rules for Montana providers, but health department doesn't take action

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Montana
Montana

Officials at the Montana Department of Health and Human Services on Friday remained unsure what course of action they would take, two days after a judge issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction requiring them to reinstate last year's Medicaid reimbursement rates for assisted living and skilled nursing operators while a lawsuit proceeds.

The Montana Health Care Association and several of its members had sued the state the preceding Monday, alleging that the state violated the law when it cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for the providers. Also named in the lawsuit were the Montana DHHS and its director.

The plaintiffs sought an injunction prohibiting the state from continuing to apply the lower rates, which they believe were adopted improperly. They also asked a judge to order the state to take “any and all actions necessary to adjust payments” to properly reimburse the plaintiffs.

In issuing a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on Wednesday, Judge James Reynolds of the state's 1st Judicial District Court said, “[T]here is good cause showing that Plaintiffs are entitled to the relief requested in order to prevent the ongoing violation of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights to know and participate, and to prevent further irreparable harm resulting from the reimbursement rates currently in effect, as documented by the affidavits and other supporting documents submitted with Plaintiff's Application.”

That same day, MHCA Executive Director Rose M. Hughes told McKnight's Senior Living that the group was “very pleased” that the judge had issued the temporary restraining order. The plaintiffs “see that as a significant first step in resolving the important issues we have raised in this case,” she added.

DHHS spokesman Chuck Council told the Associated Press on Friday that department leaders were still analyzing the judge's order to determine what they would do.

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