Gov. Jay Nixon met with health providers, community leaders and members of the Saline County Commission in Marshall to discuss the potential impact of House Bill 253 on area facilities that serve Missourians with severe behavioral and developmental disabilities. A recent report requested by the Missouri Mental Health Commission found that an override of the Governor's veto of House Bill 253 would result in $164 million in cuts to services provided by the Department of Mental Health, including the closure of five state-operated developmental disability habilitation centers in Marshall, Higginsville, Sikeston, Poplar Bluff, and St. Charles.
"Over the past several years, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to help Missourians with developmental disabilities live fuller and more productive lives," Gov. Nixon said. "That is why this report showing that House Bill 253 would reduce access to these vital services is so troubling. Closing this campus would be devastating not only to these Missourians and their families, but also to the economic health of this region, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. With so much at stake, a growing number of lawmakers are joining the bipartisan coalition calling on the General Assembly to avoid these unnecessary and harmful consequences by sustaining my veto of House Bill 253."
Habilitation centers provide residential and other support services to Missourians with severe behavioral and developmental disabilities. The closure of five of the remaining habilitation center campuses would leave open only the St. Louis Developmental Disabilities Treatment Centers' South County campus serving medically fragile individuals and the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center campus.
For its analysis, the Department of Mental Health used the General Assembly's own fiscal estimate, which estimates a cost of $692 million each year once the provisions of House Bill 253 are fully implemented. The Department projects General Revenue reductions to its budget of $87 million. Because many services offered by DMH also use federal matching dollars, the total reduction in the department's budget is projected to be approximately $164 million.
According to its report, the Department of Mental Health would have to take a number of other actions to make up for the budget reductions, including reducing funding for the five DMH Regional Autism Projects across Missouri by 25 percent ($1.8 million) and reduce DMH funding to the Missouri Autism diagnostic centers by 25 percent ($1 million). The Department also anticipates having to close the 44-bed Hawthorn Children's Psychiatric Hospital and residential care facility in St. Louis and the 32-bed Cottonwood Children's Residential Treatment Center in Cape Girardeau. The report also raised concerns that the costs associated with House Bill 253 would make it nearly impossible to improve the facilities at Fulton State Hospital.