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Dozens gather in protest of Medicaid cuts.

March 16, 2005
By: Jeana Bruce
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Dozens of protesters gathered on the South side of the Capitol Wednesday to speak against the Medicaid cuts which cleared the Senate Tuesday night.

The Senate bill, back by Gov. Matt Blunt, will reduce services for thousands of Missourians and permanently end the current Medicaid program in 2008.

"If you're on Medicaid, you shouldn't always assume you are going to be on it," Blunt said in a press conference Wednesday morning.

Medicaid is a federal and state funded program for the poor that helps with medical costs.

Sen. John Greishemer, R-Washington, said that everyone knows there is a problem with Medicaid. He said there were even instances of people living in other states drawing Medicaid benefits from Missouri.

"There is just so much fraud, it's sad," he said.

Greishemer said that those who are legitimate should not worry.

"Those that really need it are gonna get it," he said.

But protestors said they have doubts. Shannon Aller, who traveled from Kansas City, said that if this was the case he wouldn't be trying to dispose of work programs for the disabled like MAWD- Medical Assistance For Workers With Disabilities. She said that the point of the program was to get people off of disability and back to work.

Aller is currently on various medications and relies on a CPAP machine to keep her breathing at night.

Jennifer Lueckftefeld, a staff member for a rehabilitation center for mental health patients in Washington called Harmony House, said that everyone she serves needs the help.

She works with clients through the week with things like learning to cook meals, balancing checkbooks, setting alarms and keeping their apartments clean. On weekends, trips are taken to places like the zoo and the movies.

"If he takes it away, who is going to take care of them?" Lueckftefeld asked

But Sen John Loudon said that the program has to be cut back.

"We need more people pulling the wagon and fewer people riding in it," he said.

The Medicaid cuts must win House approval before they're sent to Blunt's desk.