[Education and Welfare] Missouri Senate committee moves to save blind aid
dhuff at moblind.org
Wed Apr 11 09:18:45 CDT 2012
Missouri Senate committee moves to save blind aid
BY ELIZABETH CRISP . ecrisp at post-dispatch.com > 573-635-6178
The Senate Appropriations Committee has come up with a proposal to save a
care program that serves more than 2,800 blind Missourians.
The committee continued its work Tuesday evening on a state spending plan
budget year that begins July 1, starting with a $24 billion budget framework
by the House last month.
The House recommendation took $28 million from the blind health care program
higher education, essentially eliminating the long-standing program.
Senate Appropriations Chair Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has proposed taking
from Medicaid reimbursements for the program - a slightly altered version of
recommendation from Gov. Jay Nixon.
Beyond that, Schaefer said his plan is to streamline the program for the
ensure that those who rely on it for health care coverage will have access.
Anyone who receives health care through the blind program will have to show
they are not eligible for Medicaid.
"Parts of that population are Medicaid-eligible but don't get Medicaid,"
The difference could create savings for the state - Missouri receives no
match on the blind program but does on Medicaid.
Those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid likely would be subject to
and co-pays under Schaefer's proposal, he said. That would make up the
for the program.
"No one is cut," he said.
The program for blind Missourians who are not Medicaid-eligible would be
a plan for state employees: $84 a month premium (plus vision and dental)
with a $600
Schaefer said no additional legislation will be needed to make the changes.
"We can do it," he said.
Lawmakers have been looking for areas to cut spending because revenues are
down from the recession and federal stimulus dollars that have been used to
the difference will go away next year.
Nixon, a Democrat, had recommended another cut to higher education,
House to cut the blind health care program.
After the Senate adopts a recommendation, representatives from the House and
will meet to negotate a final spending plan.
Both the House budget and Nixon's included more than $50 million that was
to be recouped through a proposed tax amnesty program. It would have allowed
who owe the state money to repay without penalties.
Schaefer expressed doubts Tuesday about the proposal's chances at this point
"It now appears that we are not going to be able to book tax amnesty," he
The committee has worked to cut that hole from the budget, he said.
"This committee is tasked with bringing a balanced budget to the floor and
what we're going to do," Schaefer said.
Elizabeth Crisp covers Missouri politics.
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