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Disability Services Organizations Brace for Cuts

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Republicans in the Missouri Senate want to make sure the governor doesn't create a health care exchange without their consent.

Organizations that provide services to people with disabilities are bracing themselves for funding cuts under Gov. Eric Greiten’s proposed state budget.

A spokesman for Gov. Greitens recently said the budget would save $52 million by raising eligibility requirements for seniors and disabled people in in-home or nursing home care programs.

Cathy Brown is the director of Public Policy and Advocacy at ParaQuad, a non-profit agency that helps people with disabilities live independently through the Medicaid-funded Consumer Directed Services program.

The people served by the program were scored on a functional assessment and found to be eligible for nursing home placement, but chose community-based care instead.

Brown said her organization expects about 16,000 people in home and community-based care programs to be impacted by the cuts.

Brown said she thought the logic behind the cuts was faulty, because in-home care programs can prevent people from developing more serious health issues down the road – issues that will ultimately cost taxpayers more to treat.

“Take for example a person who needs help dressing, bathing and eating,” Brown said. “That person absent any help, could have a slip, a fall, break a bone, end up in a hospital for a period of time and then also end up needing more intensive long-term supports and services along the way.”

Brown said she and other advocates at ParaQuad were surprised by the size of the proposed cuts, but she remained hopeful that they would not be enacted at that level.

“I think these cuts are worst-case scenario and the Missouri General Assembly has historically taken up the cause of people with disabilities and their families, and I’m sort of confident that they will do that again and we will have far less of an impact on those families that are most in need.