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Government, Politics & Issues

Missouri House Committee Passes Renewal Of Tax That Funds Medicaid

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Jonathan Ahl
/
St. Louis Public Radio
April Jolly, vice president of health equity and culture for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, testifies before the House Budget Committee on Tuesday.

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House Budget Committee passed an extension of the tax on health care providers to fund the state’s portion of Medicaid, free of controversial add-ons including prohibiting Medicaid recipients from getting birth control such as IUDs and emergency contraception medication.

But the same committee also passed a separate bill Tuesday that would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any public funds, even for health care not related to abortion.

The moves come as the legislature enters its second week in special session, which Gov. Mike Parson called to avoid a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall in the event the Federal Reimbursement Allowance Tax wasn’t renewed.

The usually routine measure didn't pass during regular session, and it was still mired in controversy when some lawmakers wanted to put in bans on certain kinds of birth control and money going to abortion providers.

A bipartisan group of female senators nixed the language on birth control, but the measure does include a prohibition on Medicaid funding going toward “medication and devices that induce abortion.”

The Senate passed the FRA without the language defunding Planned Parenthood. But the idea of making sure the state’s only provider of abortions does not receive any public money got a second life in the House committee, as a separate bill passed on a 20-9 vote along party lines.

Susan Klein, executive director and chief lobbyist of Missouri Right to Life, testified that lawmakers have an obligation to stop money from going to abortion providers.

“Whether you’re putting it in one pocket and talking about an affiliate, we know that that subsidization of the abortion industry allows the killing of innocent human life to go on,” Klein said.

Opponents say most of Planned Parenthood’s services are not related to abortion and instead help people in need receive health care including cancer screenings, contraception, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

“We’re talking about marginalized folks who are more likely to be Black or other people of color and have low incomes,” said April Jolly, vice president of health equity and culture for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

The extension of the provider tax has already passed the Senate and could be headed to the governor as soon as Wednesday.

The defunding of Planned Parenthood faces a tougher climb. It would require the House to continue its special session for the rest of the week and the Senate to return to Jefferson City to consider the measure.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

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