Affected people not notified, assisted living benefits could be cut soon

4 weeks 8 hours 45 minutes ago June 29, 2017 Jun 29, 2017 Thursday, June 29 2017 Thursday, June 29, 2017 7:14:00 PM CDT in News
By: Lydia Nusbaum, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Services for people who need assistance to live independently could be cut as soon as July 1, 2017- which is two days from now. However, budget cut opponents say people who depend on these services have not been warned about the changes. 

Independent living is where people are able to live at home instead of going to a nursing home. Caretakers will come to the house to help with needs such as bathing, getting to and from places and housekeeping.

Currently, there are two types of independent living. These include the in-home services model and the consumer directed services model. 

The consumer directed services model allows for people needing care to choose who their care takers are and what they need. The in-home services model is where an agency will send people to the house to take care of the patient, but the patient doesn't get to choose who is coming. 

Right now, someone using the consumer directed services model can get services equal to 100 percent of what a nursing home would cost. However, if the governor signs the budget, there will be a 60 percent cap on the amount of services someone can receive, according to Services for Independent Living in Columbia. This means people will have to cut the number of services they receive or find different options if the cost is over the cap.

The governor has until Friday, June 30 to sign the proposed budget, and the 60 percent cap would go into effect on Saturday, July 1. 

This could go into effect in a couple of days, but Tec Chapman, the executive director of Services for Independent Living, says the Department of Health and Senior Services has not told those who could be affected about the cap.

"They have not communicated anything. They haven't received any phone calls," Chapman said. "I think there are a lot of people that are scared."

Brian Nevins uses the consumer directed services model and said he didn't know about the cuts until he talked with someone from Services for Independent Living about a month ago. 

"That was the first time I was aware of it," Nevins said. "I haven't heard anything else about it from anywhere else."

Nevins said the proposed budget changes would reduce the number of hours he gets from his personal care attendant. 

"I probably wouldn't be able to get all the help that I would need," Nevins said.

Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Leslie Anderson said this could affect around 8,800 people in the state. She said the department has notices prepared to send out but has not told people about the cuts because they are waiting for the governor to sign the budget.

"If the governor decided 'that's not what I want,' and you get this notice, that wouldn't make sense," Anderson said. "So the department is holding onto them until the governor signs the budget."

KOMU 8 News reached out to the Department of Health and Senior Services, but it has not gotten back with a comment. 

Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R- Shell Knob, is the sponsor of the bill proposing the 60 percent cap on the consumer directed services model. His office said the department is adjusting its calling system to prepare for July 1, if the budget is signed. The office said the department is going to ramp up its call center because it knows it will get hundreds of calls. 

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