UPDATE: Final Day For MO Legislature – Preliminary Reports

UPDATE: At the very last minute, literally, the Missouri legislature agreed to fund some very important senior programs in a manner that hleps balance the state budget and provide protection for thousands of Missouri seniors. Initial reports describe the situation this way:

5:59 p.m.

The Missouri House has adopted a Senate fix to restore funding for about 8,300 seniors and disabled people at risk of losing in-home and nursing care through a Medicaid program.

The House voted 83-67 to send that proposal to the governor minutes before their 6 p.m. Friday deadline.

The proposal would allow the state’s administration commissioner to take up to $35.4 million from unspent money in dedicated funds in order to maintain the current level of in-home and nursing services for seniors and disabled Missouri residents. House members proposed several alternatives that wouldn’t relinquish appropriation powers to the executive branch, but none were accepted by senators.

It also appears at this time that the MORx program that provides prescription drug assistance was also renewed by the Legislature. There were some modifications, but the underlying program will continue.

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UPDATE: With just hours to go, the Missouri Legislature has not taken final action on the MORx prescription assistance program. For the program to continue, it must be approved before the legislature adjourns today at 6:00 PM. SB 139 is currently being considered by a Senate/House conference committee. MA4 supports continuing the program AS IS without requiring dual Medicare/Medicaid eligibility. If dual eligibility is required, 60,000 Missourians will lose access to this very important program.

Senate conferees appointed:
David Sater 573 751 1480
Jeanie Riddle 573 751 2757
Caleb Rowden 573 751-4320
Jill Schupp 573 751 9762
Scott Sifton 573 751 0220

House conferees appointed:
David Wood 573 751 2077
Justin Alferman 573 751 6668
Marsha Haefner 573 751 3762
Kip Kendrick 573 751 4189
Cora Walker 573 751 4726

If you have an opinion about this legislation, call your representative today.

UPDATE: Earlier we reported that Missouri seniors had won significant support by the Missouri Senate for key pieces of legislation, including the creation of a Senior Protection Fund; the protection of the circuit breaker tax credit; and maintaining qualifications for in-home and nursing home care at current levels. House budget leaders, however, have indicated that they want to strip some of these hard-fought provisions from becoming law. As a result, Senate budget leaders have refused to take the issue to a conference committee creating a showdown on these key pieces of legislation. The House responded with an amendment that requires overall state revenues to hit certain thresholds before certain programs can receive funding. The amendment includes a fund sweep as a “back up “ if we don’t meet the revenue threshold required by the bill. However, the fund sweep only occurs if requested by the Governor as part of the supplemental budget request. The earliest the supplemental budget would be approved is in January  – meaning the services would be unfunded for at least 6 months before the sweep kicked in.

Now is the time to let your House member know where you stand on these key issues. Call them now. This session of the Missouri Legislature will  end at 6:00 PM on Friday. Do not delay.

For more information, read the following story posted earlier this week.

As deadlines for passage of a state budget loomed, Missouri Senators agreed to amend HCB3, the overall budget bill, to protect key programs of importance to seniors. The Senate compromise language, which differed significantly from the House version of the bill, created a new Senior Service Protection Fund; preserved the “circuit breaker” tax credit for renters; maintained the current level of care requirements for Medicaid/Medicare assistance at 21 points; and maintained funding for important services provided by local Area Agencies on Aging such as in-home meals programs and senior services.

The agreement was crafted with bipartisan support and leadership from Senators Silvey and Curls. This version of the budget now heads back to a conference committee including both Senate and House members for final perfection and consideration. At this point in the debate, it is unlikely that the House will try to make additional changes to the new version of the bill, although it is possible that some elements from the original House bill could be suggested.
If you agree that the Senate version of the budget bill is in the best interest of Missouri seniors, please contact your legislators this week. The session ends on Friday, May 12 at 6:00 PM.

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