Innovation and partnerships to address the root causes of illness and using existing resources more effectively to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs. 

We are dedicated to improving the health status of Montanans and to increasing the quality and accessibility of health services for people across the state. Health disparities – defined as the higher rates of illness experienced by certain populations, including socially or economically disadvantaged families, racial and ethnic minorities, children, and older adults – are a focus of this portfolio.

Many communities, particularly in rural Montana, have limited access to health services, and healthcare workforce shortages and budget shortfalls are widespread. In recent years, Montana has seen per capita health spending rise faster than 41 other states. As health care costs continue to rise, there is a need for innovations that improve health outcomes while also helping to contain costs.

Value-based approaches that seek to realign incentives to produce better outcomes have emerged as a priority in Montana. For example, in the HELP Act that expanded Montana’s Medicaid program, the state legislature mandated that the program reduce costs and improve medical outcomes. The Governor’s Council on Healthcare Innovation and Reform also focused on value-based approaches to health care delivery system and payment reform.

Funding Opportunities

We are currently accepting two types of grant proposals in Partnerships for Better Health: competitive grants submitted under the 2020 Call for Proposals and invited grants submitted under our Housing Is Health Care Initiative.

Housing Is Health Care

Our Work in Partnerships for Better Health

Partnerships for Better Health Grantees

Red Lodge Area Community Foundation

Carbon County Area Ride & Transit: A Planning Proposal to Address Rural Isolation & Mobility Needs

Grant Amount: $24,853
Dates: 2020-2021

The Red Lodge Community Foundation will complete a feasibility study to establish a transit service in Carbon County. The study will identify the needs, best geographic route, operation times, and estimated ridership. They will work closely with a county Transportation Advisory Committee to leverage data that has already been collected on the transportation needs of the community. Grant funds will be used for project staff salaries, a group facilitator, travel, communications, and marketing. Partnerships for this project include the Transportation Advisory Committee, which includes multiple health care and social service organizations, Riverstone Health, and Community Care. The project’s goal is to reduce transportation barriers for the aging and at-risk population in Carbon County, and ensure residents have transportation to medical appointments, health facilities, grocery stores, and social events.

Partnership Health Center

Implementing a Medical-Legal Partnership at Partnership Health Center

Grant Amount: $24,000
Dates: 2020-2021

This planning grant will develop a new medical-legal partnership (MLP) in the Partnership Health Center. The MLP model integrates the expertise of legal professionals into clinical settings to help health care providers address structural problems at the root of many health inequities. By strategically partnering with community leaders in western Montana, Partnership Health Center will create a planning coalition to draw on local expertise, in-kind support, and develop program sustainability plans beyond the first year of the grant. This grant will leverage new and existing partnerships with legal service providers, judges, state public defenders, crime victim advocates, other major local health care providers, and professional organizations. Grant funds will be used to hire an on-site project coordinator to facilitate this integrated care system and to train Partnership Health Center providers and staff on the MLP model.

MSU - Office of Rural Health

Montana RIDE – Regional Initiatives in Dental Education

Grant Amount: $100,000
Dates: 2020-2022

The Office of Rural Health and Dental Health Sciences department at Montana State University will implement clinical rotations in rural, underserved, and tribal locations for dental students. The Office of Rural Health will establish a public health-oriented dental education program, create a formal network of training locations, and implement a coordinated plan for training, recruiting, and supporting oral health workers. Grant funds will be used for project staff salaries, travel expenses, and contracting with the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leadership Council’s Epidemiology Center (RMTEC) to serve as a tribal liaison. Partnerships include RMTEC, the University of Washington School of Dentistry, and clinical rotation sites.

Montana Free Press

Statewide Coverage Of COVID-19 On Individuals, Communities, Health Care System, and Legislation

Grant Amount: $20,000
Dates: 2020-2021

The Montana Free Press will cover the impact of COVID-19 on the physical and mental health of Montanans as well as the state’s response in the upcoming legislative session. For this reporting, the Montana Free Press will use their staff reporter as well as their freelance reporting team. Grant funds will be used to enable reporters to focus on the health and health policy impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The Montana Free Press has established partnerships with news organizations across the state. They will provide their stories free of charge to local and statewide news organizations, further strengthening these partnerships. The project’s overall goal is to provide high-quality, sustained, statewide coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on individuals, communities, health care infrastructure, and legislation in Montana.

Montana Food Bank Network, Inc.

Hardin Rural Health Food Box Program

Grant Amount: $10,000
Dates: 2020-2021

The Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) will partner with Big Horn Valley Health Center (based in Hardin, MT) to screen patients for food insecurity and provide food boxes and referrals to other community resources to those in need. Grant funds will be used to purchase food for the food boxes, train the clinic staff, print materials, and support the program coordinator.