Our state is well aware of the actual cost of caring for these Missourians. Yet, state general revenues only pay an average $15.26 per person per day for care.

It’s time for the state of Missouri to stand up for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities and approve a funding solution that adequately supports the nursing home services that these medically vulnerable Missourians need and deserve.

Tens of thousands of older citizens are being put at risk at the most vulnerable point in their lives. They cannot advocate for themselves, which is why so many of us who typically are not political are working so hard to call attention to this critical issue.

While Medicaid is best known for insuring our low-income citizens, it also provides a vital safety net for older Missourians who struggle with debilitating physical impairments and chronic medical conditions that require highly specialized 24-hour care in a nursing home.

Our state is well aware of the actual cost of caring for these Missourians. Yet, state general revenues only pay an average $15.26 per person per day for care. The reduced rate falls short of the actual cost of care by $25 per person per day. This underfunding is making it impossible for many in our industry to sustain the highly regulated care that is mandated to properly care for these individuals.

We are talking about our parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends. They worked hard, paid their taxes, raised their families and did their best to live a good life. These citizens have simply outlived their resources.

The state always looks for “efficiencies” to make government use fewer resources. Failure to adequately fund the Medicaid reimbursement for services to our seniors, veterans and people with disabilities runs contrary to this goal. This population is being cared for in the least restrictive setting, which cost taxpayers the least amount of money.

Those who cannot find other care likely will end up in a hospital. The cost of delivering these same services provided in a nursing home will be exponentially more, and Missouri will still be the payer. This impending crisis concerns me greatly. While we are a District Home, less than 5 percent of our funding comes from county tax dollars.

Approximately 55 percent of our residents rely on Medicaid to help cover the cost of their care. We take pride in providing them with highly specialized around-the-clock care, but we are struggling under the weight of uncompensated care.

Our state legislators are facing some tough budget decisions, but adequately funding medical care for our seniors, veterans and people with disabilities must be a priority.

Mark Huebotter is Administrator of Lewis County Nursing Home District, Canton.