Greitens wants to use tobacco money to reverse Medicaid cuts
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Gov. Eric Greitens said Thursday that he wants to use some of the money from Missouri's settlement with tobacco companies to restore most of the budget cuts he'd proposed for in-home services that support low-income disabled residents.
Greitens announced he's amending his budget proposal for next fiscal year to undo $41 million of the $52 million in Medicaid funding cuts for those programs that he originally asked lawmakers to make. He wants to use the remaining $11 million to lessen a proposed $36 million cut to state aid for school busing.
"This is not a long-term fix - it is short-term relief," Greitens said in a statement. "My team and I intend to use the coming months to do a thorough audit of how this program works: who it helps, where it's broken, and how we can deliver better services for fewer dollars."
Missouri Alliance for Home Care Executive Director Carol Hudspeth thanked Greitens for his actions in a Thursday statement.
The services allow "seniors and disabled an option to receive needed care and remain where they want to be, at home where they are happier and healthier while costing the tax payers less," Hudspeth said. "It's a win win."
The new Republican governor said he went back on his initial budget plan because of a Missouri Supreme Court ruling last week that means the state can recoup $52 million in lost tobacco settlement money.
Democratic Sen. Jason Holsman, of Kansas City, this week had called on Greitens to undo his proposed cuts to in-home care because of the settlement money.
Lawmakers ultimately craft the state budget, but members of the House Budget Committee now are considering recommendations made by Greitens.
House and Senate budget leaders on Thursday raised questions about using one-time funding from the tobacco settlement to pay for the continuing home-care program.
"It is one-time money," House Budget Committee chairman Scott Fitzpatrick said. "If we put it back, we're going to be faced with the same problem next year."
He also raised concerns about other lawsuits over the tobacco settlement money that could lead to expenses for the state in the future.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Holsman called on Greitens to undo his proposed cuts this week, not last week.