[Nfbmo] from the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Nancy Lynn freespirit at accessibleworld.org
Mon Feb 20 21:01:45 UTC 2012

I got this from another list.

Missouri panel votes to cut blind benefit from Medicaid

Those blessed with eyesight should stare hard at the three photos that accompany

this editorial. They are the faces of St. Louis-area Republicans Anne Zerr of St. Charles, Sue Allen of Town and Country and Paul Curtman of Pacific. They, along with their Republican colleagues on a House budget subcommittee, decided last week that blind people in Missouri

no longer deserve state-provided health care.

"It came out of left field," said Denny Huff, president of the St. Louis-based Missouri Council of the Blind

. The committee provided no notice and took no testimony in its attempt to pull the proverbial wool over taxpayers' eyes.

"The cut would be just devastating," Mr. Huff told us.

The vote — which must be reversed later in the budget process — would turn back the clock on more than four decades of public policy in Missouri. That policy has been

such a rock-solid commitment that even in 2005, when Gov. Matt Blunt and his fellow Republicans slashed Medicaid benefits to the state's poor and disabled, they left

the blind alone.

Apparently these days, some Missouri Republicans are so committed to cutting costs, with no regard for the state's revenue problem and no willingness to look at corporate

entitlements, that they think it's time to cut the blind out of the safety net.

Here's what's so disgusting about the stunt pulled by Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, chairman of the particular budget subcommittee: Mr. Flanigan surely knew that cutting

a $28 million health care program for 2,858 blind people in Missouri would create

a stink.  So, rather than debate the cut, or give Democrats on the committee any notice, or even let the advocates for blind Missourians know what was going on, he orchestrated

the move in a 10-minute hearing without even giving members of the minority party time to understand what they were voting on.

Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves, who is a nurse when she isn't being bullied by insensitive Republican chairmen, asked Mr. Flanigan to explain himself. The chairman refused.

"We should have the right to voice our opinion," Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, told us.  So should the blind. We suspect they'd show up in full force, ready to plead their

case in front of Mr. Flanigan's committee. Wouldn't that make for some interesting television?

Here's what we'd ask: If times are that bad, shouldn't you be cutting lawmakers' health care? Are corporate tax credits more important than protecting Missouri's

most vulnerable citizens? Have you all, seriously, lost your ever-loving minds?

Backing the budget bus over the blind without even stopping to honk the horn isn't just irresponsible and it isn't just mean, it is despicable.

Ms. Zerr, Ms. Allen and Mr. Curtman are under no obligation to follow the ridiculous actions of their chairman. One of them, or all of them, should have stood up for

their blind constituents.  In their silence, they failed the test of common decency.

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