The Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region center has confirmed to Missourinet that it received a letter on June 8th from state Medicaid Audit & Compliance Director Dale Carr stating that claims submitted for reimbursement would be suspended as of Friday, June 8 because of budget legislation.
Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jesse Lawler characterized the letter as “shocking”, given the state budget hasn’t been signed yet and the Medicaid portion wouldn’t be authorized until July 1st.
New Republican Governor Mike Parson confirmed to reporters Tuesday, according to the Kansas City Star, that he will sign the budget passed by lawmakers.
The budget includes language banning any state money from being spent on health services at any providers associated with an abortion facility.
Republican Representative Robert Ross of Yukon successfully attached amendments in late March to two budget bills with the abortion stipulation that were approved by lawmakers in early May.
That means Planned Parenthood will be stripped of funding from the state family planning program run by the Department of Health and Senior Services and from the federal Medicaid program administered by the Department of Social Services.
The legality of the Missouri legislature’s move is up in the air.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled that Arkansas could withhold Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood in August 2017, while a federal district judge in Austin blocked an attempt by Texas to do the same thing in February 2017. The last decision was appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
M’Evie Mead, director of policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, says state lawmakers are making a political statement by linking family planning services to abortion.
“That’s not even on the table,” said Mead. “These are preventive services. This is services like birth control, cancer screening, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, annual exams. All of those services are the ones that are being targeted.”
Government funding of abortions is prohibited on the federal level by the Hyde Amendment which was passed by Congress in 1976. State law has a similar restriction, including the denial of coverage for the procedure through Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood issued a report last week claiming that only 7 percent of health centers in Missouri other than its own offer comprehensive family planning services. Mead contends claims by state lawmakers that the services are readily available elsewhere are unfounded.
“There are not hundreds of other providers,” Mead said. “There’s not even a hundred other providers. There are only 43 providers other than Planned Parenthood in the whole state of Missouri where you can get these services. And they are not readily accessible to people across the state.”
Sam Lee is Director of Campaign Life Missouri, a group that lobbies against abortion. He says it’s logical to assume Planned Parenthood is the target the new Missouri abortion stipulation.
“I’m presuming that, well maybe you’d have to ask the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Social Services that they plan on cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood because they’re the only providers of abortion facilities in the state.”
Planned Parenthood performs surgical abortions at its clinics in St. Louis and Columbia. It also administers medication-induced abortions at its centers in St. Louis and Kansas City although the Kansas City facility is currently non-operational because of a transition with providers.
A federal judge in Kansas City issued a decision Monday that will prevent Planned Parenthood from expanding medication abortions to its clinics in Columbia and Springfield.