The fight for family planning is not over for Republicans in Missouri
Although state senators have pushed back an offer from diehard Conservatives to withdraw Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood, Republicans in Missouri are not done trying to remove the state health program provider.
Republican senators said they were assured Gov. Mike Parson’s administration would likely pursue regulatory action to remove the organization from any role in Medicaid.
In the House, which begins to meet in special session Tuesday to deal with the renewal of an essential tax that pays for the health program – passed by the Senate early on Saturday – lawmakers will push for separate legislation to ban payments to Planned Parenthood.
“Anti-abortion politicians continue to threaten this vital health care program for low-income people by considering illegal ‘fundraising’ measures against Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri said in a statement Monday.
Either measure could drag Missouri into a fight with the Biden administration, which has indicated he opposes efforts to block family planning providers from federally funded programs. The administration hasn’t addressed Missouri’s specific efforts, but some lawmakers suspect it will push back.
“I’m not sure the Biden administration isn’t looking for a state to make an example of it,” said Senator Mike Cierpiot, a Republican at the top of Lee.
Under federal and state laws, Medicaid does not cover abortions. But Planned Parenthood’s status as Missouri’s sole abortion provider – at its St. Louis clinic – has spurred many attempts by far-right Republicans to completely remove the organization from its role in the process. provision of taxpayer-funded health care to low-income women.
As part of Medicaid, its Planned Parenthood’s 11 family planning clinics across the state provide contraceptive services, sexually transmitted disease treatment, cancer screenings, and other non-abortion services. .
After a bitter stalemate, the state Senate on Saturday rejected the latest attempt, led by Lake St. Louis Senator Bob Onder, to tie the ban on payments to Planned Parenthood to the renewal of the billion-dollar medical provider tax dollars for the state’s Medicaid program.
The compromise language clarifies that the program also does not cover the abortion pill.
After the Senate vote, Republicans were quick to declare that the state was still going to work to exclude the supplier.
“The leadership of the Missouri House and Senate are working closely with Governor Parson to put in place a real plan to, once and for all, fund Planned Parenthood in the state of Missouri,” the chief wrote. Majority Caleb Rowden, a Republican from Columbia, in a statement. statement on Facebook.
He and Senate Speaker Dave Schatz, a Republican from Sullivan, said in a joint statement after the vote that Parson was “committed to taking the necessary executive action” that “would put the death blow” on Planned funding. Parenthood.
Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones did not respond to an inquiry Monday into the details of the proposed executive action. Rowden and Schatz also did not respond to calls for comment.
Lawmakers were unwilling to push the ban on Planned Parenthood into the Tax Renewal Bill because removing the tax could lead to the collapse of the state’s entire Medicaid program . But Republicans have learned that the Parson administration may instead rewrite Medicaid rules to restrict an abortion provider’s schedule, Cierpiot said.
“The good thing about this from our point of view is that if the rules are beyond what is possible, we can try again or try different methods,” he said. “I just think it’s a much better way to do it. Nothing threatens funding.
How the Biden administration would react to a proposed rule restricting affiliates of abortion providers is unclear. Federal law prohibits states from excluding qualified Medicaid providers without reason. But the Trump administration in 2018 rescinded Obama-era directives to states that had specified they could not exclude providers who are abortion clinics. Federal appeals courts have authorized Republican administrations in both Arkansas and Texas to cut the bridges with family planning.
“This is an open legal question,” Missouri anti-abortion lobbyist Sam Lee said last week.
Family planning advocates in Missouri started a petition ask the Biden administration to weigh in on Missouri’s efforts.
“We are asking the White House of Reproductive Health to clarify that every Missourian who relies on Medicaid has the freedom to choose their provider,” he said.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are rushing this week to push back the ban on family planning that the Senate rejected on Saturday.
In addition to hearing the bill to renew the health care provider tax, which is due to pass by July 1 before Parson enacts drastic budget cuts, the House budget committee is expected to hear two laws totally excluding Planned Parenthood or other Medicaid-affiliated abortion clinics from other public funding.
It is sponsored by O’Fallon Rep. Nick Schroer, who is among several House Republicans who have said they want to restore the Onder language alongside the passage of the tax renewal.
Lawmakers in 2018 and 2019 included this ban in the state budget, and the state withheld more than $ 1 million in payments to Planned Parenthood affiliates before the Missouri Supreme Court ruled only lawmakers could not pass this legislation through the state budget.
Jonathan Shorman of The Star contributed reporting.