11.17.19

Mountain-Pacific secured $15.5 million in federal funding for operations

Mountain-Pacific Quality Health, of Helena, has secured $15.5 million in federal funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester both provided aid to the organization in securing this competitive funding over the next five years. However, according to Sara Medley, CEO of Mountain-Pacific, this is about half of the funding the organization received in 2014. 

Medley described the funding as "insanely competitive" and noted that there are comprehensive evaluation metrics at play in this "value-based contract." Medley explained this means the organization "has to perform well" in its efforts to promote better health and prevent disease. 

"There is a lot at stake here," Medley said. "We really have to perform well."

According to Medley, this funding is used for specific programs and initiatives inside the non-profit organization. These include improving behavioral health such as reducing the number of patients on opioids and lowering the number of emergency room visits in their areas of operation. Additionally, the organization aims to increase the quality of care via fewer hospital visits, proper transfers from hospitals, reducing adverse drug events, managing chronic disease and aiding nursing homes with patient care.

"We have a lot of work to do for that $15.5 million," Medley said. 

This isn't limited to the work Mountain-Pacific does in Montana. As the funding is federal, it means that the organization's offices in American Samoa, Hawaii, Wyoming, Alaska, Guam and Saipan are also part of this funding. This means the organization is expected to provide services to all of these locations with it's 100 employees for approximately $3.1 million per year. 

Regardless, it's a challenge that Medley and the organization plan to rise to. Since taking over as CEO seven years ago, Medley said the organization's reliance on federal funding has been reduced from over 50% to just 30%. 

"The work we do is incredibly important to us. We are mission driven," Medley said. "We look to ourselves to provide better health benefits." 

Federal funding isn't the only source for Mountain-Pacific. The organization is also eligible for state and grant funding. They partner with community organizations, universities, Indian Health Services and many small and large healthcare facilities. Additionally, Mountain-Pacific has a commercial side where they offer services such as health insurance portability and Accountability Act security checks. 

Mountain-Pacific couldn't secure this funding alone and received help from both of Montana's senators in ensuring these funds.

"Sen. Daines and Sen. Tester have been very supportive of us over the years," Medley said. 

Daines stated his appreciation at seeing an organization as important as Mountain-Pacific receiving this additional funding to support their workload. 

“Their work makes a big impact on our community, by strengthening the health of Montanans, increasing patient safety, and lowering the costs of health care," Daines said in a statement.  "It’s a pleasure to see their organization continue to grow and strengthen Montana, and I look forward to continue supporting them along the way.”

Mountain-Pacific is primarily considered a quality improvement organization meaning its primary goal is to improve the quality of health for Medicare beneficiaries. This mostly means seniors, according to a representative for Tester, but the organization does reach many others in the communities it operates in. 

"Quality improvement organizations like Mountain-Pacific are critical in increasing the quality of care older Montanans receive through Medicare," Tester said. "This not only helps keep folks healthy, but also saves money which brings down costs for our seniors and enhances the long-term sustainability of the medicare program. 

Mountain-Pacific Quality Health was founded in 1973 in Helena. Since that time, the organization has provided health services and expanded to four states and three US territories. 


By:  Tyler Manning
Source: Helena Independent Record