General Assembly Protects Elderly and Disabled in Last Day Action

With only minutes remaining in the 2017 session, state legislators passed legislation (HCB 3) that preserves funding for in-home and long-term care for the elderly and disabled, while keeping in place an existing tax credit for low-income renters.

As introduced, HCB 3 had pitted the interests of elderly and/or disabled needing medical care against  those of low-income renters who are also elderly and/or disabled and eligible for a tax credit. The credit averages $535 a year and helps people meet the cost of basic necessities.

As originally passed by the Missouri House, HCB 3 repealed the renters’ tax credit and used the savings to maintain funding for the in-home and long-term care program.

Supporters of the House version of the legislation said that repealing the renters’ credit was necessary to save funding for some 8,000 elderly and disabled who rely on in-home services to stay out of nursing homes. But repealing the renters’ credit would have cut off assistance to over 100,000 other needy Missourians.

The Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC) argued that the bill, as passed by the House, presented a false choice between the two needy groups. The MCC urged legislators to find other ways to fund the care for the elderly and disabled while keeping in place the renters’ tax credit.

The MCC acknowledged the renters’ credit could be improved with reforms, but suggested this was best done as part of an overall reform of all of Missouri’s tax credits next year.

After the House passed HCB 3 with a repeal of the renters’ credit, the Senate amended the bill by removing the proposed repeal and funding the in-home care by sweeping funds from the unexpended balances of various state programs. Senator Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City) offered the Senate amendment. On the last day of the session, the House accepted the Senate amendments and passed HCB 3. The bill must now be signed by Governor Greitens in order to become state law.

As passed, HCB 3 only solves the revenue problem for the upcoming fiscal year; the bill authorizes a one time “sweep” of unexpended balances in various state programs. Next year, those funds will no longer be available, and the General Assembly will have to find other monies for the in-home care for the elderly and disabled.

Thanks to all the MOCAN members who called or emailed legislators. Your strong advocacy means services and tax credit relief will continue for thousands of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.