Author

Katheryn Houghton

Katheryn Houghton

Katheryn Houghton, Montana Correspondent, is covering all things health care across the state for KHN. That includes health policy and politics, access to treatment and the business of health care. She owes her health reporting start to years spent in daily newsrooms, including those of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Daily Inter Lake. She’s been an Association of Health Care Journalists fellow and a Solutions Journalism Network grantee. She is a graduate of the University of Montana.

Montana vows changes to avoid delayed contracts. Some providers still await back pay.

By: - February 8, 2024

The head of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said the agency has nearly cleared its backlog of incomplete contracts that risked people’s access to health services. Even so, some organizations say the state still owes them tens of thousands of dollars for services already provided. Director Charlie Brereton told state lawmakers […]

Delays in state contracts leave Montana health providers strapped

By: - January 11, 2024

Montana health organizations say a state government backlog in paying its contractors has hindered their ability to provide care, and they worry the bottleneck’s ripple effects will be felt long after the money comes through. Several organizations waiting for contracts to be approved and funding to arrive said that more than 200 private and public […]

Medicaid ‘unwinding’ makes other public assistance harder to get

By: , and - December 27, 2023

MISSOULA. — An hour before sunrise, Shelly Brost walked a mile in freezing rain to the public assistance office. She was running out of time to prove she still qualified for food aid after being stymied by a backlogged state call center. Twice, she’d tried to use Montana’s public assistance help line to complete an […]

Millions in opioid settlement funds sit untouched as overdose deaths rise

By: and - December 24, 2023

Nearly a year after Montana began receiving millions of dollars to invest in efforts to combat the opioid crisis, much of that money remains untouched. Meanwhile, the state’s opioid overdose and death counts continue to rise. The money is part of the approximately $50 billion that states and local governments will receive nationwide in opioid […]

‘Worse than people can imagine’: Medicaid ‘unwinding’ breeds chaos in states

By: , , and - November 12, 2023

More than two dozen people lined up outside a state public assistance office in Montana before it opened to ensure they didn’t get cut off from Medicaid. Callers in Missouri and Florida reported waiting on hold for more than two hours on hotlines to renew their Medicaid coverage. The parents of a disabled man in […]

On the night shift with a sexual assault nurse in Montana

By: - June 12, 2023

MISSOULA,— Jacqueline Towarnicki got a text as she finished her day shift at a local clinic. She had a new case, a patient covered in bruises who couldn’t remember how the injuries got there. Towarnicki’s breath caught, a familiar feeling after four years of working night shifts as a sexual assault nurse examiner in this […]

Domestic violence shelters move out of hiding

By: - May 29, 2023

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Sara Young packed a bag of essentials, gathered her kids, and fled her home to a refuge: an old, green house that blended in with the neighborhood in this southwestern Montana city. Nothing about the house identified it as a domestic violence shelter — it was hidden in plain sight. Young wasn’t […]

As Montana’s mental health crisis care dwindles, politicians promise aid

By: - April 15, 2023

When budget cuts led Western Montana Mental Health Center to start curtailing its services five years ago, rural communities primarily felt the effect. But as the decline of one of the state’s largest mental health providers has continued, it’s left a vacuum in behavioral health care. It started in places like Livingston, a town of […]

Schools struggle with lead in water while awaiting federal relief

By: - March 11, 2023

PHILIPSBURG, Mont. — On a recent day in this 19th-century mining town turned tourist hot spot, students made their way into the Granite High School lobby and past a new filtered water bottle fill station. Water samples taken from the drinking fountain the station replaced had a lead concentration of 10 parts per billion — […]

Montana lawmakers shy away from amending Montana’s Constitution to outlaw abortion

By: - February 19, 2023

Republican lawmakers in Montana wield a supermajority that gives them the power to ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would break the link between abortion rights and the right to privacy in the state’s constitution. But so far, they haven’t sought to ask voters to make the change, a rewrite that would allow […]

As states seek to limit abortions, Montana wants to redefine what is medically necessary

By: - January 29, 2023

Montana’s conservative leaders, stymied by the courts from passing laws that impose significant statewide abortion restrictions, seek to tighten the state’s Medicaid rules to make it more difficult for low-income women to receive abortions. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is proposing to define when an abortion is medically necessary, limit who […]

A Montana addiction clinic wanted to motivate clients with rewards. Then came the investigation

By: - December 26, 2022

A Montana addiction clinic’s plan to give people with substance use disorders as much as $1,966.50 in gift cards and vouchers to follow its treatment program is raising questions about the use of financial incentives with patients. The tug of war over the effective but largely unregulated tool is playing out in the northwestern Montana […]