MO Legislature Still Debating Medical Benefits For Missourians

St. Louis Post Dispatch – Nearly 8,000 nursing home residents and Missourians who receive in-home care may no longer qualify for state assistance later this year under the latest budget proposal advancing in the Capitol.

On a day when a report showed growth in state tax revenues slowing in April, negotiators in the House and Senate moved to raise the threshold needed to qualify for state medical assistance. Deeper cuts to reimbursement rates to nursing homes and in-home caregivers also were approved.

The state would save millions of dollars by tightening eligibility for Medicaid services, but it could mean job losses from the closure of nursing homes and more elderly and disabled overwhelming hospital emergency rooms, where treatment is more expensive.

The proposal, which now heads to the full House and Senate, was called necessary after the GOP-controlled Senate failed to repeal a tax credit for elderly renters that would have freed up enough money to offset cuts first floated by Gov. Eric Greitens in his February budget address.

“This is just bad, really bad,” said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis.

But, said House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick, “Our job is to pass a balanced budget.”

Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, said senators could reverse the reductions if they were to repeal the tax credit in the waning days of the legislative session.

The cuts in spending came as the Legislature scrambled to put the finishing touches on a $27.8 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

They have until 6 p.m. Friday to get a final document on the governor’s desk or face the prospect of a special session.

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