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So it has come to this: Even the blind aren’t safe from Missouri Republicans’ survival-of-the-fittest budget philosophy.
The House recommended cutting $28 million in health care benefits for 2,800 blind Missourians in the $24 billion budget it sent to the Senate for consideration.
The justifications for doing so were callous and false. The health care program helps blind people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Lawmakers implied that at least some of the recipients might be freeloading on the state’s tab.
But Missouri’s Medicaid qualification threshold for a blind or disabled person who lives alone is only $9,495 a year. Most blind persons don’t have great-paying jobs with health insurance. Many have expensive, chronic health problems like diabetes. Their chances of finding affordable policies in the individual insurance market as it now exists are practically nil.
All but seven House Republicans approved the flawed budget bill, framing the cut to the blind as a necessary measure to avoid shortchanging colleges and universities.
We don’t like cuts to higher education, either. But, as Kansas City Democrat Mike Talboy, the House minority leader, put it: “If the state has to take away medical care from blind people to pay for its colleges and universities, it is well past time to start looking for new sources of revenue.”
Amen. Cigarette tax increase, anybody?
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