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It’s no secret that Montana is facing a mental health crisis. We have consistently ranked among the five states with the highest suicide rates, with our rate being almost double the national average. While it’s difficult to pin down a single root cause, we know that a serious contributing factor is that thousands of Montanans can’t afford vital mental health treatment.

Medicaid expansion has proved essential to combating this issue by opening up access to mental health treatment for the one in 10 Montanans enrolled in the program. This has had the dual benefit of expanding access to care and bringing in crucial federal funding to mental health treatment facilities across the state.

One of those facilities is Shodair Hospital, which serves Montana’s youth battling mental illness. Shodair is the only public facility in the state to provide acute and residential psychiatric treatment for our most vulnerable population. Their state-of-the-art holistic health care practice would be compromised if Medicaid expansion expires.

If we let Medicaid expansion expire in June, we’ll have crippled mental health services across the state, stripping thousands of Montanans of the care they need. The Legislature needs to do what’s right and lift the sunset on Medicaid expansion.

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Katee Orr