Friday, February 19, 2010

People with disabilities in Missouri protest budget cuts that threaten independent living

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Political Fix blog:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — People with disabilities and their caregivers came to the Capitol Feb. 18 to protest a budget cut that could make it harder for the disabled to remain in their homes.

On the chopping block: personal care services, which include assistance with meals, dressing and bathing.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposed budget would limit personal assistance services that a person can receive under the Medicaid program to 3.5 hours a day, or 60 hours a month. Those with greater needs could appeal for an additional 20 hours a month.

Nixon’s budget counts on $8.6 million in savings — $3.1 million in state funds and $5.5 million in federal funds — from the cutback.

Many people on Medicaid receive more than 60 hours of personal care a month. They say that without the attendant services, they could be forced to move to nursing homes, which are more expensive and would cost the state more than home care.

At a Capitol press conference today, Bob Pund of Columbia, who was paralyzed in an auto accident 20 years ago, said he needs help “in nearly every aspect of my life. Attendants are like oxygen to me.”

Not only is it a safety net, it helps people maintain their dignity and quality of life, others said.

Linda Kelley, 37, of Niangua, works as an aide for her mother, who has colon cancer and emphysema.

“Home care keeps my mom and thousands of others safe and independent in their homes,” Kelley said.

The program is part of the budget for the Department of Health and Senior Services. The House Budget Committee could consider the issue as soon as next week.