Governor Jay Nixon is calling on the Missouri House to restore health care funding for low income blind people, after a committee voted last week to cut the program from next year’s budget.
The proposed cuts would save the state 28 million dollars – money that would go to filling the gap in higher education funding.
"This is a very needy group," Governor Nixon explained to a crowd in Columbia. "Often times folks that have sight-impairment have other things going on that are also significant health challenges. And there’s a solid reason why over the last number of decades no one has ever even considered cutting this program. That’s because it’s the right thing to do. These people need it. They rely on it."
The program pays for health care for over 2000 blind people who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Representative Ryan Silvey, who chairs the budget committee, says since there is no income cap to qualify for the program, those benefiting aren’t necessarily the state’s neediest.
"Someone could literally be making $100 thousand a year, live in a home that they own themselves, and still qualify for this program, as long as they don’t have over $20 thousand dollars in investment accounts or other assets," Silvey said.
Governor Nixon says if the full House approves the cuts, he’ll work with the Senate to restore funding.