JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov. Mike Parson is calling for a special session starting Wednesday at noon to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance.
The FRA funds the state’s Medicaid program by taxing healthcare providers like hospitals and nursing homes.
The special session comes after lawmakers could not reach a compromise before they adjourned from the regular session. Parson has threatened major budget cuts if the General Assembly does not renew the important tax by July 1.
“Come July 1, if FRA is not extended, my administration will be forced to make budget restrictions across state government,” Parson said.
Parson gave lawmakers an ultimatum Monday, telling them to find a solution by noon Tuesday or departments like higher education, K-12 education and social services like foster care would suffer. The total restrictions Parson mentioned equaled more than $722 million.
The FRA brings in $1.6 billion for Medicaid, then the tax draws down about $2.7 billion more from the federal government.
The governor said he believes the General Assembly has reached a solution, but a debate still to come is if contraceptives like Plan B and abortion services should be covered for women already on Medicaid.
“After laying out the grim reality of our state’s financial future if FRA is not extended, I believe legislators have now agreed to a compromise that will end this stalemate,” Parson said.
Just before his noon deadline Tuesday, Senators in the Conservative Caucus sent a letter to Parson, urging him to immediately call the legislature back to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortion services.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Parson was calling out Republican lawmakers who were holding up the renewal process for trying to remove those items from Medicaid.
“For those who want to move the goalpost yet again, know that you and you alone will own this and the devastating effects on Missourians and the economy if the FRA is not extended,” Parson said. “Narrow political interests cannot be allowed to hold hostage vital healthcare funding.”
By Tuesday, the governor had included language similar to what was in the Conservative Caucus letter in his special session call by asking lawmakers to pass legislation that prohibits funding for abortion services and drugs like Plan B.
The special session will focus on extending certain allowances, taxes, and assessments that fund the MO HealthNet program. Specifically, Governor Parson’s special session call is to:
- Extend the expiration of the ground ambulance service reimbursement allowance
- Extend the expiration of the nursing facility reimbursement allowance
- Extend the expiration of the Medicaid managed care organization reimbursement allowance
- Extend the expiration of the FRA program
- Extend the expiration of the pharmacy tax
- Extend the expiration of the intermediate care facility for the intellectually disabled assessment
- Prohibit abortifacient drugs and devices
- Prohibits funding for abortion facilities under the Uninsured Women’s Health Program
- Allow the Senate to consider appointments that require the advice and consent of the Senate
Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, tweeted Tuesday that the Senate Democratic Caucus will not block birth control for women.
The plan is for Senators to return to the Capitol on Wednesday and possibly work through the weekend if needed to pass the legislation. Then, representatives will come in starting Monday to do their part, with a goal of renewing the FRA by July 1.
Parson said if lawmakers do not extend this tax, it will cost Missouri more than $1.4 billion over the next two years.
Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri released a state about the special session Tuesday evening, saying:
“Governor Parson has yet again missed an opportunity to hold a small group of extreme politicians accountable for jeopardizing the state’s economic health. Jefferson City politicians will go back to a special session Wednesday to continue a deeply unpopular and harmful agenda against birth control. If they don’t stop playing politics with this critical funding bill, it could cost the state billions of dollars in education, infrastructure, and other critical state funding.
“The medical and scientific communities are clear on this: Emergency contraception and birth control prevent pregnancy — they do not end it. Whether politicians understand this or not only underscores that they have no place in a discussion that should be between a patient and their health care provider.”