6/26/02 - Rallying for Medicaid Coverage

One Heartland group is speaking out against a proposed bill in the Missouri House, which some say would hurt the quality of life for thousands of Missourians. SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence, or SADI, held a rally Wednesday, to show their opposition to changes in the Medicaid "Spend Down" policy.

A change in Missouri's Medicaid "Spend Down" policy will mean more people will have to pay money, up front, out of their own pockets, before they're eligible for medical coverage, leading them to make some hard decisions on how they can get by.

"Spend Down" recipient Janet Dye says, "I spend a 1000 dollars in medicines every month, there's no way I'm going to make that." Things haven't always been that way for Janet. Twelve years ago, she broke her back. Since then, she's been on several medications. "The pain medicine doesn't get rid of the pain, it just helps me live with it," Janet says. "I don't know if I can handle that pain again."

And she's not alone. There are other people here in the same situation, wondering what they will do if the money they get from Medicaid gets cut. Scarlett Seabaugh with SADI says, "We have a tight budget, everyone knows we have to make cuts, but unfortunately the way it's going now we're making cuts and we're putting it on the backs on people who can least afford to have it done."

People who are going to have to make some tough decisions on what they can do without. Janet says, "I put 25 dollars a week in groceries and if i do away with my car because I can't pay the insurance I might be able to make the spend down."

Like many people, Janet says she falls in the middle and the "Spend Down" may mean she can't live independently. Right now, Janet qualifies for in home services, but she doesn't know if that will be possible much longer. "A lot of people who are on spend down, their income is below federal poverty guidelines so we're talking about people without a lot of income," Seabaugh says. If Governor Bob Holden signs the bill, the changes will go into effect October first.