Missouri lawmakers and its governor are failing seniors, veterans and those with disabilities.
Budget cuts this year left up to 8,000 recipients of long-term care services in their homes or in nursing home care without services.
The cuts should never have happened. The Missouri Legislature passed a bill in May that would have continued funding the service by scraping together $35 million out of various special state funds. Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed that bill, calling it “an unconstitutional, one-time fake fix to a real problem.”
The governor called two special sessions on other matters this summer, and legislators came together in a veto session in September. Yet the problem remains.
Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, initiated a special committee headed by Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, to tackle the problem after September’s veto session. Richard said Cunningham has presented a proposal to Greitens, but legislators have not heard back from the governor’s office.
The cuts took effect July 1. These people are already confronting the loss of care services such as bathing and grooming assistance. The budget cuts reduce the number of hours that in-home patients can use an attendant by 40 percent. They cut nursing homes reimbursement by 3 percent, meaning some nursing homes will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. That could translate to reductions that will affect residents’ care and quality of life.
If the Legislature and the governor don’t act fast, any potential solution will be delayed until after the Legislature could take up the matter in its session next year.
“Even if there’s a small number of people that’s affected, just a few people is too much for me,” Richard said in an interview. “So that’s why the Senate … came to consensus that we need to press ahead on this.”
Gov. Greitens, respond to this committee. If its proposal is unacceptable, call a special session and work with lawmakers to craft a solution.
If a society is judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable, Missouri is earning harsh judgment in this matter.
These cuts can and should be reversed. Act now to restore needed care.