The Montana Health Research and Education Foundation (MHREF) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Established in 1973 by the Montana Hospital Association, the MHREF provides an important structure for MHA to pursue federal, state and private grants and contracts requiring non-profit status. The contracts, grants, and programs administered by, and funded through, MHREF assist MHA’s members in several critical areas to address emerging health care needs in their communities.

MHREF Strategic Priorities

  • Develop measurable indicators of success based on best practices to insure the highest level of performance in implementing programs and activities.
  • Ensure that any new programs, grants or other activities align with and support MHA’s strategic priorities and provide a benefit to MHA’s members and the communities they serve.
  • Position the organization to implement and/or pilot test future health reform initiatives, particularly those that focus on providing quality health care in a rural-based state.
  • Ensure that MHA members are knowledgeable of the programs, activities and support offered through the MHREF.
  • Build strong and open relationships with MHA members, other health care providers, and state, local and federal entities in order to enhance our position as a credible, dependable, and innovative organization.
  • Continue to build internal competencies and leverage existing resources to sustain current activities and effectively respond to new opportunities that will positively impact MHA and MHREF.

Supporting Access to Rural Health Care

MHREF is best known as the agency that administered the Medical Assistance Facility (MAF) Demonstration Project for eleven years. The MAF was the nation’s first, and is recognized as its most successful, limited service rural hospital model. The project was created to ensure access to health care services in frontier areas that otherwise could not maintain acute care services. The Critical Access Hospital (CAH) program authorized by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 is based on Montana’s MAFs. MHREF administers major portions of the federal Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant to support CAH facilities at the request of the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).
MHREF also administers the Montana Capital Assistance Program, a joint venture with the Montana Facility Financing Authority, and assists hospitals with rural health clinic conversions.


Performance Improvement Network
North Central Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
South Central Area Health Education Centers (AHEC)
Workforce & Education
MHREF Board of Directors