Medicaid in-home care

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COLUMBIA – Medicaid recipient Bill Neal says he would be lost without his in-home assistant.

“She does all the housework. She helps me with my medicine," he said. "I'm a diabetic. She gives me my shots. She gives me a shower. She helps me in and out because I slip around the tub. I don't know what she doesn't help me with. She takes me anyplace else I need to go. She does shopping. Anything I need."

Neal is one of 8,000 low-income Missourians who may lose their in-home healthcare and medical services unless state legislators can override Gov. Eric Greiten's veto of a bill that would have supplemented funding.

The bill would pull $35 million from state departments to fund in-home assistance, but the governor believed it was "unconstitutional." The veto session is scheduled for Wednesday.

Neal’s caretaker is his granddaughter, Crystal Johnson. She not only takes care of Bill but also works a full-time job and is a full-time student. Johnson said the caretaker compensation from Medicaid is helpful since she is unable to work during the hours she assists her grandfather.

Leslie Anderson, of Services for Independent Living, said some people may think it is simple for a person that needs in-home assistance to find alternative help. 

"Now you take those hours away and that person has to rely on friends, neighbors, church friends that may not be available.”

Anderson said it is important to look at the “reliability and capability” of the people may soon have to rely on if in-home care is no longer funded.

People such as Neal, with caretakers that are also family members, are more fortunate than those that do not have relatives to rely on.

“Whether Medicaid is going to cover his stuff, I am going to be here,” Johnson said. "There are people out there who don't have family ties, who don't have people that can go and help them."

Johnson has cared for other individuals on Medicaid through Services for Independent Living in Columbia.  She said some were not able to function or complete daily tasks without her assistance. 

She said one woman she used to care for couldn't hold a broom to sweep her house.

"Most people don't realize how much these services help people,” Johnson said.