The state Supreme Court is reviewing whether the Missouri Legislature illegally blocked hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood over a one to two year period. After Tuesday’s hearing, attorney Chuck Hatfield, who’s representing the organization, says Republican lawmakers do not want to give funding to doctors affiliated with Planned Parenthood. He says the Legislature cannot pick and choose which Medicaid providers it’s going to give the funding to.
“What the court was considering today is whether the Legislature can go into what’s called an appropriations bill, which is usually just for the spending of money, and cut off one set of doctors from providing these types of services,” says Hatfield.
Planned Parenthood has 11 clinics in Missouri, but the St. Louis location is the only one that provides abortions. The locations offer other services to low-income Missourians, including birth control and cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.
Hatfield says state aid to schools is set up the same way as the funding in question.
“Sometimes the formula is fully funded,” he says. “Sometimes in our history, it’s not been fully funded. But, it flows through a statutorily-prescribed mechanism to distribute the funds out to the various school districts – just like Medicaid does. What if the Legislature went into the appropriations bill and said ‘We’re going to change how funds are distributed through the foundation formula?’ Now we’re going to have a new law every 12 months as to how we distribute the funds under the foundation formula, or whether we’re going to fund drug treatment courts, or whether we’re going to pay for family planning? That is not the way the system is supposed to work.”
Missouri Solicitor General D. John Sauer argued that lawmakers went by the book. He disputes Planned Parenthood’s argument that the legislature cannot craft budget bills to cut funding to certain Medicaid providers.
“General appropriations bills may embrace the various subjects and accounts for which monies are appropriated,” says Sauer.
The high court could rule on the case at any time.
To view the full arguments of both sides, click here.
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