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Department of Mental Health presents its current state to Appropriations committee

March 07, 2005
By: Elizabeth Baird
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Mental Health opened its books to the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday, amid protests against Gov. Matt Blunt's proposed cuts.

Department director Dorn Schuffman said the Alcohol and Drug Abuse division alone would lose nearly half its funding to Gov. Matt Blunt's proposed Medicaid cuts, totalling around $12 million.

"We would see a 45 percent reduction in the coverage program, if these cuts go through," Schuffman said.

The division costs were an estimated $23 million last year.

Co-Chair of the committee, Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, said these dollars must be cut because Missouri is short on money.

Gov. Blunt allotted $480.6 million to Mental Health in his budget, which would be a 7.9 percent decrease from last year.

"We have the second most expensive Medicaid program in the country," Nodler said. "And we are soon to be number one."

Medicaid cuts have met much opposition since Blunt's announced the cuts during his State of the State address in January.

"We've been here two days a week since Blunt proposed his budget," said Linda Grgurich, chief officer of Preferred Family Healthcare. "We're taking a disproportionate cut."