By Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA - Lawmakers will consider a bill Friday in the House Human Services Committee that would add one line to the state’s current Medicaid program, requiring the program to cover services provided by licensed marriage and family therapists.

Rep. Adam Rosendale, R-Billings, is the sponsor of the bill and said services like these are important to cover in Montana.

“In a lot of our rural communities it’s one of the ways that people have access without having to travel significantly far distances to our bigger cities,” Rosendale said.

According to the fiscal note attached to House Bill 453 the addition of the services would cost a little less than $200,000 for the first fiscal year. But Rosendale said that number will will likely be less.

“The actual charge doesn’t even break 10,000, I think. And it might be significantly lower than that,” Rosendale said.

Rosendale said his bill aims to address the lack of mental health coverage in rural areas.

“It gives them that opportunity to have incredible health care provided for them,” Rosendale said.

The bill would need approval from the federal program in order to receive matching funds for services.

Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, is also carrying a bill that addresses mental health in the state. House Bill 470, which would allow licensed marriage and family therapists to perform psychological evaluations, passed second reading on the House floor Thursday.

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.