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Missouri senators still want special session for in-home health care — but time is running out

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Mike Cunningham, center, is handling a plan aimed at restoring cuts to in-home health care services for low-income people.

The Missouri Senate is waiting to go into special session on securing in-home health care benefits for more than 8,000 state residents.

The upper chamber’s proposal is being handled by Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville. It involves reducing the number of elderly homeowners and renters who qualify for a housing tax break known as the “circuit breaker.” The amount renters could receive would be capped at $450, while homeowners would be capped at $750. And the tax break would be limited to those with a maximum annual income of $22,000.

It also involves shifting unused funds from nursing homes and the state’s tobacco settlement, which would provide an extra $25 million dollars for in-home health care.

“And then we’d probably come up with a $40 million Medicaid match, so we’re getting up there pretty good — somewhere probably around $65 million,” Cunningham said. “When I presented (it), I had 17 (senators) sign a petition that they would call themselves (into special session) and said they’d do whatever it took to pass it.”

He added that other Senate members have verbally committed to his plan, giving them enough votes to pass it if a special session is called by Gov. Eric Greitens.

But for legislators to call themselves into special session, they would need the signatures of three-fourths of all House and Senate members. Greitens could also call the legislature into special session,but the Associated Press reported last week that such a move is increasingly unlikely.

So far there’s been no response from House leaders to Cunningham’s proposal. He said he’s also prepared to sponsor the same proposal during next regular session, which begins in January.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.