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States in Crisis:
The Grassroots Response

NAMI Missouri Advocacy Alert

Cindy Keele
NAMI-MO executive director
(April 2002)

Dear NAMI Members and Friends,

The Missouri House passed state budgets yesterday and last night, including the budgets for mental health treatment and services and social services/Medicaid.

$92 million for community based mental health treatment and services stayed in as did moneys for $80 general relief payments (with a one year limit). There are sufficient monies allocated to avoid requiring people who must meet a "spend down" requirement to pay the spend down amount up front in cash (rather than merely incur bills).

This is a testament to the effectiveness of citizen advocacy!

This does not mean that people subject to Medicaid spend down or those without Medicaid and getting mental health treatment and services are out of the woods, not quite yet. This budget must now be passed in the Senate.

The House passed the budgets with a shortfall remaining. House members will deliberate on Monday about whether to make up for the shortfall by transferring funds from the state's reserve or Rainy Day fund or by going back to the various budgets and making cuts. It is also possible the House will avoid the issue altogether and pass the problem along to the Senate unresolved.

What happens is the Senate opts to "pass the buck?" The Governor will either make the cuts himself or bring the legislature back for a "special session" and keep them in session until they resolve the issue. Law requiresthat our state have a balanced budget.

ADVOCACY KEEPS PARITY ALIVE!

An aide to Senator Peter Kinder has indicated HB1440 could be assigned to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee instead of the (dangerous) Insurance Committee. He was heard to remark, "you just would not believe how many letters he (Kinder) has on his desk about this!"

Mental Health Advocates were informed that if the bill was not assigned to the Insurance Committee Senator Rohrbach, the committee's chair, would attempt to "kill" it. Advocates held fast and asked that the bill go to Public Health and Welfare. It is likely a filibuster is being planned. Stay alert. As the bill progresses and arrives at the Senate Floor (early to mid May likely) action may be needed to halt a filibuster.

Just FYI, Senator Mary Bland's parity bill will be heard by the Senate Insurance Committee Wednesday Morning at 8:30 a.m. in Senate Conference Room #2 - first floor. At this writing I do not know if she plans to enter a substitute to mirror HB1440 or leave the bill as is.

Stay tuned.


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