Missouri, as with numerous states across the country, has been facing the impact of strained budgets. As a result, they have had to face the prospect of raising taxes or cutting spending. Many states have raised taxes to the point of driving residents out of state, such as the case presents itself in Connecticut and California (net population decreases for several years), and a balance is sought in others. In Missouri, though, disabled adults and seniors have acutely felt the impact of these budget cuts.
The State Legislature slashed $50 million in funding for home care to 7,800 disabled residents and while $8 million of that has since been restored, it has meant extreme difficulties and challenges for those directly affected.
Some have derided the lawmakers for these cuts, but legislators have claimed they cut from everywhere first and there were few decent options left. According to the Associated Press article, Missouri residents fear effect of funding cuts for disabled, published by the Charlotte Observer:
“About $8 million of the $50 million the state Legislature initially cut last year has been restored, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .
The cuts affected more than 7,800 disabled Missouri residents, said Republican State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick of Shell Knob, who is the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
“We were cutting things drastically everywhere else before we came to these services,” Fitzpatrick said, citing higher education costs as an example.
Advocates say the cuts have resulted in disabled residents receiving fewer hours with personal attendants who assist them with daily tasks they can’t otherwise perform.
St. Louis resident Steve Foelsch is paralyzed from the chest down. The 53-year-old has had to max out his credit card so his attendants can stay longer since the state no longer covers that care.
“When you make a cut like this, I’m just dangerously close to going into a nursing home,” Foelsch said.”
Unfortunately, if residents are unable to get home care, the only other government-paid option becomes nursing home care, which costs significantly more. States will likely continue struggling with these delicate yet vitally important subjects as budgets are strained, but those who need care will be the one’s silently suffering.
Home care is a vital component of modern healthcare and its growing importance is not really lost on anyone, and being able to help disabled and aging men and women afford to remain home with adequate care will continue to be a hot-button topic and a crucial one for this and the next generations who may need this level of support and care at home.