By Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA - The Department of Health and Human Services is challenging a 40-year-old statute officials say creates a government-established monopoly when it comes to chemical dependency treatment.

Right now, state law provides funding for only one treatment facility and services for a set area. House Bill 95 would allow the department to implement more facilities and programs as they see fit for specific areas.

But Mona Jameson, representing the Boyd Andrew Chemical Dependency Treatment Programs in Helena, says duplicating services would strain treatment facilities.

“You end up diluting the availability of your counselors -- of your licensed chemical dependency counselors -- to even provide the treatment,” Jameson said Tuesday.

Jameson says she thinks the bill would produce opposite results from what it is trying to achieve.

The Human Services committee will hear the bill Wednesday.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.