Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder charges the health department for putting elderly Missourians lives at risk.
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Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder charges the health department for putting elderly Missourians lives at risk.

Date: October 18, 2011
By: Stacey Kafka
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior services did not respond to charges that her department is putting the lives of Missouri’s elderly in danger.

A secretary called the director and said she would not comment, instead directing her calls to the department’s spokesperson.

Calls to that department went unanswered.

This comes after Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder publicly called on Gov. Jay Nixon to act now on a health care crisis for Missouri’s senior citizens.

This crisis stems from the Department of Health and Senior Services privatizing in-home health care after the state canceled it's contract with Syncare, the company originally hired to perform these assessments.

The privatization of these health care services means that assessments for health care are taking much longer than they previously did.

Patients used to be able to go through their private health care providers to get these assessments, which then were submitted to the Department of Health and Senior Services, but now the Department is hiring temporary workers to complete assessments.

“Only 400 of 1,000 patients on the critical needs list have been assessed, that’s in 48 days.  That means that there are 600 seniors in critical condition, who have been waiting for months for assessment for care who have not even been looked at,” said Kinder.

Diane Noah, Executive Director for HomeCare of Mid-Missouri urges the government to go back to the old way of assessments. She remains unsure of why health care providers are not being used to complete these assessments.

“I don't know why, I don't understand why, I don't know why they have not gone back to allowing providers to do those assessments to help those people at least get up and running and get these people get back where they need to be," said Noah.

Private health care companies have always been able to do assessments.

Noah also stressed that if the state turned to these private health care companies to get help with these assessments, it would take about two weeks for them to catch up on the backlog of assessments.

It is unknown how many backlogged assessments still exist, but in September there were nearly 10,000 cases.

Kinder along with Senator Bob Dixon R-Springfield and Representative Tom Long R-Springfield stressed the importance of acting now, instead of waiting for regular session in January. 

Long says that the state needs to act now to fix this problem.

"This is not going away.  These people are still hurting, they're still suffering health wise and maybe even dying because we're not doing what we should be doing as a state," said Long.

Senator Bob Dixon emphasized the importance of acting now.

“These are real folks with real addresses and very real needs,” said Dixon.

The Department of Health and Senior Services hired temporary employees in September to complete backlogged assessments, which is costing taxpayers an additional $8 million this year.

Although they publicly called on the governor and the Department of Health and Senior Services to act on this crisis, Kinder said that they have not actually spoken to the department or the governor’s office aside from these public press conferences.

The governor's office would not comment on the isssue, instead directing questions to the Spokesperson for the Department of Health and Senior Services.