State budget shortfall forces AWARE to cut positions

Posted at 10:06 AM, Jul 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-28 12:06:49-04

BUTTE – A $49 million cut to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has forced the Anaconda-based healthcare provider AWARE to cut up to 30 positions.

“We’ve definitely had to compensate for that to make up for some of the drastic cuts, especially to community services like mental health and DD case management,” said AWARE Public Policy Director Pat Noonan.

These are just the latest in cuts for a group that’s already made cuts earlier this year.

“So it’s been about 100 total and I’d say roughly we have 2,500 less people receiving services from AWARE today than we did on Jan. 1,” Noonan said.

AWARE tried to streamline its operations when the budget shortfall was first announced.

“We went to virtual offices, we had flexible work hours, so people could work more closely with the family and what times worked for them and we gave it our best shot, but under the current rate we just could not make it work,” Noonan said.

While this has been a difficult year for AWARE, there is some hope out on the horizon. Gov. Steve Bullock announced this week he plans to reverse $45 million in budget cuts, which could be helpful for the folks here at AWARE.

“We’ve been dying for some good news, so we are definitely excited to hear that revenues are up and the governor and Director Hogan recently announced they are going to be able to put some money back toward unwinding these cuts from the Legislature,” he said.

Just when and how is yet to be determined.