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Home health advocates say cuts jeopardize seniors' health

Missouri home health advocates said cuts to home health services would leave thousands of Missourians with no other way to get care. (File)

Advocates for home health care on Tuesday said reversals of state funding cuts should not come at the expense of other aid programs.

Cuts to the senior services protection fund could leave 8,000 Missourians without home health care. State lawmakers late last week started discussing potential funding solutions with Gov. Eric Greitens, but no formal proposal has been put forth.

Ann Bickel, a board member with the Missouri Coalition for Quality Care, said people who use the program would have no other way to get long-term care if the cuts remain.

"If they don't take their medicine properly for a certain time, or if they don't eat properly for diabetics, they will have an acute episode," she said.

State lawmakers this spring tried to make up the lost funding by taking a total of $35.4 million from other agencies' budget surpluses. Greitens vetoed the bill, arguing the legislation had no constitutional authority to do this. Much of the discussion since then has centered around Missouri's property tax credit, which provides tax relief to low-income seniors. Popularly called the circuit breaker tax credit, it provides up to $750 per year to renters. Bickel said she hopes any funding restored to the home health program doesn't come from cuts to this tax credit.

"They may get $50 a year, they may get $100, $200," she said. "They may use this money to buy a new coat, a pair of glasses."

Senate President Ron Richard has asked Greitens to call a special session once lawmakers come up with a solution. Greitens' office did not return multiple calls seeking comment for this story.

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