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Advocates for disabled, some lawmakers want special session

By MO Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – Advocates for the disabled joined a group of state legislators at the State Capitol Wednesday to call for a special session this fall. The session would be used to restore the Medical Assistance for Working Disabled program.

The program allows about 3,000 disabled who are able to work also get health care and personal assistance services; it was eliminated by Governor Blunt's Medicaid cuts two years ago.

"People who would benefit from this program want the opportunity to live lives of self reliance and independence," said State Rep. Jeff Harris (D-Columbia), the House Minority Leader. "They just want a chance. And this legislature and this governor should give folks a chance."

Governor Blunt's office had previously said he would not call any special session for any reason, adding this issue could be addressed next year as part of larger health care reform.

The lawmakers Wednesday said they could use a provision that lets them call themselves into a special session. That would happen if 75% of both the House and Senate members sign a petition.

But Blunt then issued a statement Wednesday, saying he would be willing to call a special session, but only if lawmakers also address health care fraud issues: "If the House were to tell me that they are ready to pass a strong Medicaid fraud bill similar to the one the Senate passed and that I supported, I would be willing to call a special session to deal with both issues."


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