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Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood stripped from 2017 budget

Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood stripped from 2017 budget

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JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri House Republicans this week struck out Medicaid funding provided for Planned Parenthood services in next year’s budget.

State Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, spearheaded the move Tuesday to strip almost $380,000 out of the 2017 budget that begins July 1, saying he didn’t want any state dollars going toward abortions. That amount is based on 2014 budget year expenditures for Planned Parenthood services, when it covered cervical exams, human papillomavirus vaccines and birth control.

“There is a whole litany of things on this list that have nothing to do with abortion and simply has to do with women’s health care,” Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said Tuesday. “For the last time, stay out of our uterus.”

Other states have tried and failed to cut Medicaid for Planned Parenthood services in the past. “It is early in the budgeting process, but we are concerned about these attacks on Medicaid patients throughout our state,” said Mary M. Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

The cut is the latest development in a battle over abortion rights in Missouri. It began last summer after Republican state lawmakers decided to investigate allegations that the abortion and health care provider sold fetal tissue. Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat running for governor this year, found no evidence of wrongdoing in Missouri, and a Texas grand jury later indicted anti-abortion activists who shot the videos.

There are two Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri that oversee 14 centers in the state. Only the St. Louis facility provides abortions. Other services provided include contraception, pregnancy tests and cancer screenings.

Several Republicans said women could go elsewhere, such as federally qualified health centers, for the same care.

“Everyone here needs to understand there are (centers that) ... do exactly the same thing and they’re not allowed to do abortions at all,” said Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson. “To say we are losing everything with this amendment is ludicrous.”

Federal law allows Medicaid reimbursement on abortions only when a woman’s life is in danger or when the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest. The Missouri Planned Parenthood affiliates were reimbursed $126.24 in state and federal Medicaid money in 2015 for those purposes.

An official with the Department of Social Services previously said the state couldn’t discriminate in distributing Medicaid funds simply because it didn’t like the services Planned Parenthood provided.

Last year, several states were warned against discriminating against Planned Parenthood by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, citing a 2011 memo that says states cannot terminate Medicaid funding to providers because of the services offered. Federal law allows those on Medicaid to obtain services such as family planning from any qualified provider, and ending Medicaid agreements with Planned Parenthood could conflict with that.

Indiana and Arizona have previously battled against Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in court. Planned Parenthood won both times.

Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri tweeted Tuesday that Ross’ cut would “lead to poorer health outcomes for folks who rely on us for care.”

The budget needs one more vote in the House before moving to the Senate for further debate.

The bill is House Bill 2011.

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Alex Stuckey is a statehouse reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Related to this story

The governor's harsh comments come just a day after the Missouri House signed off on a $27.1 billion budget for the 2017 year that begins July 1. That budget falls short of Nixon's recommendations both for higher education institutions based on performance funding and the Foundation Formula, which funds K-12 public schools.

Last week, Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, added wording to the 2017 budget prohibiting state funds from going to any entity that counsels women to have abortions or provides non-emergency abortions. The Republican-led House approved Ross' change, much to the chagrin of Democratic lawmakers who say the change could negatively impact the entire state's Medicaid program.

Missouri lawmakers are just as likely to fail as Indiana and Arizona legislators did in their states' efforts to block Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood. Knowing that has not stopped them from persisting in a battle that is going to cost taxpayers a lot of money to defend when the issue winds up in court.

The decision to block the revocation was handed down last month by U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey. Abortions still cannot be performed at the Columbia clinic until a physician affiliated with it has hospital privileges. That makes the St. Louis facility the only legal abortion clinic in the state.

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