Monroe City man: "I'm not nursing home bait yet"

Thousands of people who rely on Missouri Medicaid to get them to and from medical treatments will be out of luck July 1, 2012.

That is if a group of Medicaid recipients don't win their case against the state before the deadline. One of the plaintiffs, a Monroe City man, says the state's playing with his life.

Cliff Talton has been on the kidney transplant list for the last 8 years.

"The man upstairs isn't ready for me to come home yet. I still have work to do," Talton said.

Talton takes the Older Adult Transportation Service (OATS) bus three times a week for dialysis treatment in Hannibal and fears what upcoming Medicaid changes will mean for him. Come July 1, the state plans to drop the transportation coverage accessible to many people such as Talton if they don't start paying more out of pocket.

Currently, Medicaid recipients have to meet a monthly spend down of what is considered their excess income. Only then, will Medicaid reimburse their medical costs. But with these new changes, Talton's financial responsibilities would be much higher, ones he would not be able to meet.

"I get $1,400 a month in Social Security. If I have to pay $1,400 to Medicaid, I couldn't ... how do they expect me to live? I still have a house, insurance ... I've got to eat," Talton said.

Simply put, he would have to spend every dollar he earns each month just for Medicaid. Not doing so would exclude him from transportation coverage for his dialysis.

Talton along with four St. Louis residents have filed a lawsuit against the state, saying this change would force them into a nursing home to get the coverage they need, and that's just not an option for Talton.

"I'm not nursing home bait yet. I've been married to my wife for 43 years ... 45 years ... sorry. Now the state's saying, you need to go to the nursing home, leave my family," Talton said.

The current lawsuit has asked a federal judge to force the state to cover the transportation services and prevent the July 1 change.

Talton says state representatives and senators, including Sen. Claire McCaskill have previously contacted him showing interest in his story. We'll follow up with Talton in the coming weeks to see what has come of it.

KHQA also spoke with Linda Yager, the executive director of OATS, about what these changes would mean for them.

"If there are a number of people in his situation, it can have a lot of impact on us. What we will try to do is figure out some kind of interim assistance for them. In some places we will have successes and in others we will not," Yager said.

Would you be someone affected by these Medicaid changes? Let us know below.