JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, released the following statement today regarding his concerns on the detrimental effects cuts to in-home health care and nursing homes will have on Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.
“Several months ago I presented a plan to Senate leadership and my caucus, which outlined ways we could reverse cuts to in-home care and nursing homes without any increases to the current budget. The proposal was a result of a working group set up by President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and was comprised of a bipartisan team of House and Senate members.”
This is the Senate’s proposal:
1) Begin with circuit breaker;
a) Cap income per household at 180 percent of the poverty level ($22,000);
b) Cap the maximum credit at $750 per household for homeowners and $450 for renters; and,
c) Reduce the percentage of rent that constitutes property tax to 10 percent (instead of the current 20 percent).
The above will not apply to 100 percent disabled individuals, 100 percent disabled veterans or surviving spouses of veterans, firefighters or police officers killed in the line of duty. Their maximum credits would remain the same as those under the current program.
2) No residents receiving state or federal assistance, or living in non-profit housing will be eligible for the circuit breaker, nor will nursing home residents.
3) Other available funds;
a) Reduce nursing facility reimbursement fund by $1.5 million; and,
b) Reduce Nursing Facility Quality of Care Fund by $1.5 million.
Other sources of funding under consideration would produce approximately $3.5 million and could include;
a) Healthy Families Trust Fund (tobacco money);
b) Life Sciences Trust Fund (tobacco money); and,
c) Missouri Public Health Services Fund.
Each of these changes would provide approximately $25 million. Federal matching funds would create approximately $40 million for a total of $65 million available to restore cuts.
“The above is not set in stone, but the Missouri Senate WILL NOT CUT benefits from 100 percent disabled individuals, 100 percent disabled veterans or surviving spouses of veterans, firefighters or police officers killed in the line of duty.
After my presentation to the majority caucus, all 17 Republican Senate members present signed a formal petition to call us into a special session to protect our seniors and disabled citizens. This proposal has also been presented to the House Budget Chairman. It is now up to the House to assure the Senate that they will pass the reforms to protect our nursing homes that accept Medicaid patients and home health care recipients receiving Medicaid benefits.
If approved, we would be in a position to call ourselves into special session or ask the governor to do so.
While it seems like time is running short for us to convene a special session in 2017, I am preparing options to file a bill addressing these concerns as my first priority in 2018,” stated Cunningham.
Lawmakers return to the State Capitol on January 3 at noon for the start of the 2018 legislative session.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.