State Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, does not want the state to seek a federal waiver that would affect 8,000 disabled and elderly Missourians. He’s among a group of state legislators and care providers urging the state to abandon its plans to request one from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. State Reps. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, and Cora Faith Walker, D-Ferguson, joined Merideth at a press conference this week outside the Kirkpatrick Building in Jefferson City. If federal approval is granted, it would lead to $34 million in cuts to in-home and nursing home services for seniors and the disabled.
“If they don’t get the services this responsible way, then we’re going to have to deal with external costs, emergency care and other collateral damage. Human impact, fiscal impact. In both cases, these cuts are irresponsible,” he says.
According to Merideth, Missouri is prematurely seeking the waiver. The issue has not finished the legislative process.
“We are going to have members at least pushing for a veto override,” says Merideth. “We should give it that full opportunity before a waiver would be issued.”
Republican Governor Eric Greitens has vetoed the bi-partisan budget bill that would take $34 million in excess state funds to cover the costs of such services. He says the measure would jeopardize funding for abused children, injured workers and first responders.
The governor’s veto also causes a 3% reimbursement cut to providers and caretakers. The move has led some care providers to make tough decisions, including Jennifer Gundy of On My Own Inc. in southwest Missouri’s Nevada.
“We have had to reduce the pay of folks. I’ve had to lay off people,” says Gundy. “The impact of the consumers, they’re having to make a decision as to whether they get transportation, medications, whether they take a bath once a week or three times a week.”
The legislation passed in the House this year but not with enough votes to override the governor’s veto.