Deep cuts to a program that provides home-based care for the disabled could force a flood of individuals into nursing homes, stakeholders are warning Missouri and federal officials.

In 2017, the state’s Legislature cut $50 million out of its budget for home-based care services. That’s meant less time for Missourians to spend with personal attendants who help them go about their daily tasks.

Suzan Weller, with the Disability Resource Association, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her organization was scrambling to find places for the needy individuals to go, with nursing homes a likely destination.

“At this point, there are several thousand individuals in the state that are needing more care but are having a difficult time due to those cuts,” she said. “If you can’t live on your own with the limited hours, what other options do you have?”

“Consumer directed services,” as the program is called, is covered by Medicaid. With costs of the offering outpacing revenues, elected officials decided to put a cap on spending. That equated to about $36 million in cuts — $13 million in state spending and another $23 million in federal matching funds. More than 7,800 Missourians have been impacted by the reductions.

Advocates believe that dropping aid services is likely to ultimately mean more money spent on hospitalizations, which are much costlier. One hospital visit costs Medicaid about $9,000, versus the estimated $5,321 saved per beneficiary with cuts to consumer-directed services, the Post-Dispatch reported.