HELENA – The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has chosen a contractor to provide targeted case management to people with developmental disabilities across the state.
DPHHS leaders awarded a 13-month statewide contract to AWARE, a nonprofit based in Anaconda. The contract is for about $2.86 million. As part of it, AWARE will provide case management for about 2,500 people.
“We felt like we were one of the organizations that was best positioned in the state to be able to provide this service,” said Pat Noonan, AWARE’s public policy officer. “So when we were awarded the contract, it reinforced that. We were excited to get it and excited to keep serving these folks in the community.”
The new contract will begin on June 1 and run through June 30, 2019.
“I am very pleased that a new statewide case management contract for individuals with disabilities has been awarded,” said DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan, in a statement. “I know how important this service is to the thousands of Montanans who receive it, and I’m excited to move forward with a contract in place.”
Four contractors – AWARE, Helena Industries, Opportunity Resources of Missoula and Central Montana Medical Center of Lewistown – previously shared case management responsibilities. However, DPHHS announced last year that it would end those contracts, in response to large-scale state budget cuts.
Agency leaders initially planned to have state case managers take over the service, but they eventually decided to offer a new contract for a single statewide provider. They say the change will save the state $980,000 by July 2019.
Noonan said AWARE has been through a long period of uncertainty. He said the organization made layoffs after DPHHS announced the end of the previous case management contracts.
“It’s nice to be able to let some people keep their jobs whose jobs were in danger, and be able to seek out new employment,” he said.
AWARE currently has about 12 case managers, after the layoffs. Noonan said they will need a total of about 40 to handle the expanded responsibility. He said most of the new employees will work out of AWARE’s current offices around the state, and that they will work remotely with people far away from those offices.
Noonan said AWARE will be working quickly to get ready for their new caseload.
“It’ll be kind of a whirlwind here from now to June 1,” he said. “We have a lot of clients that will be ported from other providers and from the state, and so we have to get them all signed up while simultaneously hiring between 30 to 40 staff. It’s exciting; it’s also a bit of a hurdle.”
AWARE will not provide case management for about 750 people who receive other Medicaid waiver services through the organization, to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Those people will have case managers through DPHHS.