Budget cuts could force disabled Missourians from homes

Advocates may file federal lawsuit

OAK GROVE, Mo. - Some of Missouri's most vulnerable people may be forced to leave their homes due to roughly $13 million in budget cuts for disabled stay at home programs.    

Meanwhile, advocates for the disabled may file a federal lawsuit to challenge those cuts under the Olmstead Act.

The act requires states to integrate disabled people into the community as much as possible.

Gary Sallee enjoys taking care of his garden at his home in Oak Grove. Badly injured in a car crash 30 years ago, Sallee is paralyzed from the chest down.

With limited use of his arms and hands, Sallee has rigged a garden tool to do some weeding in the gardens in front of his home.

But he may not be able to stay there for long. He needs hours of help each day.

"I've been in various programs and it seems like every time I'm in a program, it gets cut out," Sallee said.

Like thousands of other Missouri residents, Sallee is part of the state's Consumer Directed Services program.

Currently, a helper comes to Sallee's home six hours a day.

In June, he received a letter from the state noting his services may be cut to the point he can't live at home and suggested he apply for Medicaid which he currently is not eligible to receive.

The letter didn't say how much service time would be cut for him.

Sallee says after several phone calls, it appears his helper time will be cut about in half.

He says about all of that time would be needed just to get him out of bed and dressed each morning and then undressed and put to bed at night.

Sallee says it would leave virtually no time for cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping which would in effect force him into a nursing home.

"I tried calling the governor," Sallee said. "I didn't get any call back or response there," he said.

In a statement on the budget, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens said he chose cutting services over raising taxes.

His budget cuts an estimated $12.8 million from disabled stay at home programs.

"We don't believe it will save the state money", said Julie DeJean.

DeJean is the CEO for a group called "The Whole Person" which administers Missouri's disabled assistance programs for part of the metro area.

The savings in the state budget plan reduces disabled stay at home services from 100 percent of the average nursing home stay in Missouri to 60 percent.

But DeJean says more than half of her 1,250 clients may be forced into nursing homes due to the budget cuts.

So instead of a 40 percent savings for those people, she says the state is right back to square one paying for nursing home costs with no savings.

Additionally, she says many of those people work and pay payroll taxes, sales taxes and in some instances property taxes.

She notes the helpers who could lose their jobs also pay taxes.

So DeJean believes when everything is considered, the budget cuts don't provide real savings and mean a loss of independence for many people.

When the 41 Action News Investigators asked if the budget cuts are a good deal for taxpayers, she said, "Well no because we're all aging and there's lots of us who are going to be in the same place a lot of those people are in".

"It's so much cheaper for me to be in my home," Sallee said. "My attitude, my life would be much better. People are happier in their home than in an institution", he said.

The cuts are being implemented over the next several months as individuals on the home assistance programs are evaluated.

Print this article Back to Top