By Representative Crystal Quade (HD132) and Representative Peter Merideth (HD80)
As freshman Democrats, we came into Jefferson City knowing the people at home are our bosses. As part of a super minority, we were told our voices wouldn’t be heard, because Democrats and Republicans could never work together. But after Governor Greitens’ proposed budget gutted Medicaid coverage for in-home and nursing home services, we saw true bipartisanship. Members on both sides of the aisle knew what a dramatic, and negative impact this would have on their constituents. After months of disagreement, negotiation and hard work, folks from urban and rural districts came together to find a solution to restore these services with unspent, and unbudgeted, funds held by the state. The governor’s veto of this rare bipartisan bill (HCB3) is unacceptable. It is time for the representatives of the people to remind him who he works for and override this veto.
With the lead of Senators Silvey (R) and Curls (D), and some creative thinking by Rep. Lavender, House Committee Bill 3 restored the governor’s cuts to Medicaid – cuts that would result in the loss of hundreds of healthcare jobs across the state and leave many vulnerable Missourians without the care they need, making them dependent on more expensive and inefficient government aid instead. Their solution accessed unused funds sitting year after year in state coffers, without any further damage to other priorities like education and infrastructure that the governor’s budget had already cut.
We heard from our constituents across the state that this solution was necessary and fair, and we listened. At a time when the two political parties can rarely work together, we did.
With his veto of HCB3, Governor Greitens doubled down on his unnecessary cut to Medicaid services. He ignored the hard work and creative solution by the legislature and left Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens, and the people we all represent, scrambling.
Here’s why this matters. When seniors and folks with disabilities are able to afford support in their homes, it saves the state money and empowers these Missourians to live independently. It provides them the freedom to work and the ability to participate in our communities and economy. It allows people to maintain their dignity. The governor’s cuts would kick over 8,000 people out of their homes, and leave them unable to support themselves independently.
In a time when our budget is overwhelmingly upside down, we also need to be thinking long term. Cutting services like these means folks will end up in the emergency room more often. It means constant shifts in maintenance of care. It also means loss of jobs, which means loss of revenue for our state. Saving short term dollars at the expense of significant long term costs isn’t fiscally conservative — it’s simply irresponsible.
As our population is aging, health care costs are only growing. But that doesn’t mean the solution is to cut services that help people live independently. It means supporting alternative approaches that reduce long term costs. We have to think creatively in looking for solutions, not simply look to the quickest ways to shrink this year’s budget.
We now have one more chance — an opportunity as a legislature to again restore these services, to bring that sigh of relief to so many of our neighbors. A chance to emphatically tell this governor we will not accept his cuts to essential services for our most vulnerable neighbors and family members.
A strong majority of both Democrat and Republican senators and representatives listened to our constituents and rejected his irresponsible cuts during session. The legislature found a solution to the problem he created and both political parties agreed to support it.
We can do it again.
Let’s tell Governor Greitens we stand with seniors and people with disabilities across the state, and we stand with the workers that provide crucial services to them. We stand for the lives and the jobs that depend on these funds, and we refuse to subsidize his political agenda and special interests at the expense of our people.
Call your representatives and senators. Tell them to override Governor Greitens’ veto of HCB3. We don’t work for him, we work for all of you.
Representatives Peter Merideth, District 80 (St. Louis) and Crystal Quade, District 132 (Springfield)