Balancing the Missouri budget on the backs of people with disabilities | Creative Commons

The Missouri state legislature decided earlier this week to cap the number of service hours that people with disabilities will receive. In an effort to balance the budget, lawmakers cut funds to the Consumer Directed Services program (CDS).

The CDS program allows for individuals with disabilities – like me – to hire, vet, and fire the people helping us with our most intimate daily care.

The legislature’s new 60 percent cap means that a person will only receive three hours and forty-five minutes of aide time, per day, to meet their needs. It also forces people with disabilities to find alternative care options – options which can lead to them going below the poverty line, or worse, moving into a nursing home – an experience which can be likened to a prison sentence.

You might be thinking this sounds a bit dramatic, but let’s take a look from another perspective.

The CDS program allows people with disabilities to be active members of their community with a sense of independence. Being placed into a nursing home – not by choice – is akin to the struggle against the prison industrial complex our sisters and brothers of color face.

A hospital isn’t too far away from a nursing home, which isn’t too far from a prison.

Gov. Eric Grietens and the Missouri legislature, by their callous actions, are not only stifling full community engagement for people with disabilities, but, will in fact, snuff it out completely.

Too often we become voiceless pawns in the money exchange between the nursing care system’s gatekeepers.

Much of the early work done by the disabilities rights movement in Berkeley, Calif. (and continuing today around the nation) focused on keeping people with disabilities out of institutions and freeing those who are already institutionalized.

For us, the human experience is based on relationship building – relationships that we have made autonomously in any system, whether in our healthcare or daily care.

An avalanche, made with the bodies and spirits of my community, is rolling quickly into darkness, and I encourage everyone reading this to take a deep look into the culture of people with disabilities.

It will give you a window into our intersectional connections with other movements active in the resistance.

Chris Worth is a community organizer with over 15 years of experience. He has organized multiple grassroots initiatives for people with disabilities, most notably the ENABLE youth project in West Virginia that focused on making local communities more accessible for people with disabilities.


Christopher R. J. Worth
Christopher R. J. Worth

Chris Worth is a community organizer with years of experience that focused on making local communities more accessible for people with disabilities.