October 18, 2021

Missouri House sends Medicaid tax extension to Parson, abortion-provider funding ban to Senate

3 min read

In the end, which arrived Wednesday in the Missouri House of Representatives 11 hours before a midnight deadline, everybody got something, nobody got everything and all questioned or defended the need for a special session to approve what previously had been a procedural measure.

Missouri’s $11 billion Medicaid program got three years of certainty in extending the state’s Federal Reimbursement Allocation (FRA), which will allow the state to collect $1.28 billion in hospital taxes to draw $2.391 billion in federal Medicaid funding annually.

Conservatives got two of three demands encoded into law – no public money for abortifacients and no state contracting with providers that directly, or through affiliates, offer abortion services.

And Gov. Mike Parson doesn’t have to wake up Thursday and sign a nine-page, $722 million list of budget cuts on the first day of the new fiscal year, as he had threatened to do.

Conservatives were unsuccessful in imposing restrictions on the use of public funds for contraception products. Democrats, health care advocates and some Republicans criticized the conservative lawmakers for turning the FRA extension into a litmus test on abortion.

Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, who sponsored three special session bills, and other House conservatives were unrepentant on the chamber’s floor Wednesday about inducing the special session to do exactly what opponents criticized them for – make it about abortion.

“This wasn’t political theater,” Schroer said. “I ran on this issue. This is my No. 1 issue. I have fought for this issue day in and day out.”

The House subsequently approved Schroer’s House Bill 2 in a 109-45 vote.

HB 2 states no federal law, executive order or regulation can “infringe on the right of the people of Missouri to restrict public funds for abortion” and prohibits the state and local governments from being “coerced, compelled, or commandeered by the federal government to enact, administer, or enforce a federal regulatory program that directly or indirectly funds abortion.”

HB 2 also prohibits the federal government from “commanding or conscripting public officials of the state or its political subdivisions to enforce a federal regulatory program that directly or indirectly funds abortion.”

Essentially, HB 2 states Missouri does not have to contract with Planned Parenthood for Medicaid-funded services because it offers abortion services and, basically, is an inducement for legal challenges that Pro-Life conservatives believe they can win.

Much of the morning was consumed by floor debate on HB 2, which was amended by Schroer to ban any business in Missouri from requiring coronavirus vaccinations for employees or anyone else.

The amendment was added to by Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, to state no one can dispute a person’s religious or health exemption from the vaccine.

The House sent HB 2 to the Senate but there is no indication if the upper chamber will re-convene after leaving Jefferson City over the weekend.

House leaders called on senators to return and pass the ban on money for abortion providers. “We urge our colleagues in the Senate to take immediate action to pass these important pro-life protections,” House leadership said in a statement.

Senators left after approving Senate Bill 1, the “clean” FRA extension that denies Medicaid spending for drugs/devices “used for the purpose of inducing an abortion.”

The measure was hotly debated for three days last week in the Senate before being adopted Saturday in a 28-5 vote. On Wednesday, the House endorsed it and sent it to Parson’s desk with little comment in a 140-13 vote.

This article was originally posted on Missouri House sends Medicaid tax extension to Parson, abortion-provider funding ban to Senate

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