JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Lawmakers continue to debate if abortion facilities and some contraceptives like Plan B should be cover under subsidized healthcare in Missouri.
Day two of special session was mostly spent in a hearing room as Senators heard testimony for nearly four hours, but there’s still no compromise in sight. Earlier this week Gov. Mike Parson called legislators back to Jefferson City to renew an important tax that funds the state’s Medicaid program. The biggest holdup, if lawmakers should add pro-life language to the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA) legislation.
“As most of you know, the FRA is how we fund our over billion-dollar state Medicaid budget,” Senate Appropriations chair Dan Hegeman (R-Cosby) said. “The Federal Reimbursement Allowance is vitally important to the state, and we need to move it forward for various reasons.”
The tax is paid by hospitals and other healthcare providers. It brings in more than $1.5 billion in state funding for Medicaid and then the federal government nearly doubles that.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Biden administration is not looking for a state to make an example out of and I just don’t want Missouri to be that state,” Sen. Mike Cierpiot (R-Lee’s Summit) said.
Parson told the General Assembly if the tax is not renewed by July 1, the state will face more than $722 million in budget cuts.
When Senators returned for session Wednesday, Hegeman filed three different FRA bills. One bill, Senate Bill 3, is a clean FRA reauthorization, Senate Bill 2 includes prohibits abortion services and facilities from being eligible under the Uninsured Women’s Health Program and prohibits certain contraceptives like Plan B under Medicaid. The final bill, Senate Bill 1, combines the two.
Only two passed out of committee Thursday, as both Planned Parenthood and Missouri Right to Life both gave testimony.
“Many of our patients have insurance and chose us because they trust us because maybe they’ve been to other providers that stigmatize their sexual health or their choice of birth control,” Vice President of Education Policy for Planned Parenthood Angie Postal said. “Our family planning centers don’t prescribe medication abortion which is a medicine you take to end a pregnancy. Medication abortion is not the same as emergency contraception.”
While Planned Parenthood spoke in opposition of SB 1 and 3, Missouri Right to Life spoke in opposition of all three.
“The constituents that sent you here are asking you please, stop our federal tax dollars and our state tax dollars from going to fund abortion providers,” Executive Director of Missouri Right to Life Susan Klein said. “
Klein said the organization would like to see stronger pro-life language.
Cierpiot stressed his concern multiple times of Missouri losing its federal aid if lawmakers include the limits on contraception and healthcare centers.
“I think there’s a lot of uncertainty in the path you are proposing we take,” Cierpiot said to Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis). “That could take much of our funding for pregnant women and people in nursing homes and put it at risk.”
Democrats, like Sen. Brian Williams (D-University City) want to see a clean FRA.
“We should be separating the question and making this about funding the FRA and not birth control or even abortion at this point because it’s going to have such a detriment to an adverse impact on so many different entities in the state,” Williams said.
The FRA has been in place in Missouri for nearly 30 years. Senators will start debating SB 1 and 3 Friday morning with the goal of passing legislation this weekend. Next week, the House will return to vote.