JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Planned Parenthood is suing the state of Missouri for trying to block Medicaid funding from going to the provider.
This lawsuit comes as no surprise to anyone inside the Capitol after Gov. Mike Parson signed an emergency budget bill three weeks ago that stopped abortion providers and their affiliates from being reimbursed through the state’s Medicaid program.
“I hope they lose,” said Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). “We don’t want to fund Planned Parenthood, we’ve never had.”
The lawsuit, filed in Cole County, states that prohibiting the reimbursement of Medicaid is unconstitutional and illegal. The goal is to block the Department of Social Services (DSS) from ending those reimbursements for services like birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other non-abortion care.
Within that $4.5 billion budget signed by the governor, it included money to fully fund Medicaid and to give state workers a pay raise, but it allocated no money for providers like Planned Parenthood to serve Missourians on Medicaid.
“We see time and time again bills pushed by the Republican majority here that puts our Medicaid funding at risk with the federal government,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield). “We’re thankful they filed suit today. I’m hopeful they will be able to provide those services to Missourians.”
Quade said Democrats in the House didn’t put up a fight on the legislation because the court has previously ruled with Planned Parenthood.
“There is money left over from the previous years that we believe the language superseded essentially and they would still be able to put that money out to service.”
Under the law, the state’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet, is prohibited from paying for abortions except for instances of rape, incest or to save a mother’s life. Out of the 11 Planned Parenthood locations, the St. Louis facility in the Central West End is the only abortion clinic in the state, where last year there were 46 abortions.
The lawsuit states that prohibiting the reimbursement of Medicaid is unconstitutional and illegal.
Republicans, even though called “dysfunctional” by Senate leadership, want to see these providers defunded.
“One thing in a sometimes very hotly contested, fractured caucus, from day to day, that’s one thing I can guarantee you we agree on,” Rowden said.
Thursday was the final working day for lawmakers before spring break and as they head into a week off, mending those relationships is a top priority.
“Everything has to be on the table because the thing we cannot afford is to continue to embarrass ourselves in front of the people of Missouri by saying we are not able, willing, competent enough to do what they sent us here to do,” Rowden said.
Planned Parenthood said it will continue to offer services to Medicaid patients. In a statement from the president and CEO of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, Yamelsie Rodriguez said.
“For more than a year, we’ve warned the Biden administration: Missourians are in danger of losing access to their health care. Now, we are pleading with them: enforce Medicaid law immediately. Missouri is the fourth state to violate federal law, and without enforcement, it won’t be the last.
“While we fight this defunding in court, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri will continue serving MO HealthNet patients at no cost to them. That is our unbreakable commitment to the thousands of Medicaid patients who rely on us for life-saving health care.”
Back in 2020, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood after a 2018 budget bill where lawmakers excluded abortion providers or their affiliates from receiving Medicaid reimbursements.
The court said it was “unconstitutional” and also violated federal Medicaid law.
Missouri is the fourth state to try and restrict Medicaid funding for providers like Planned Parenthood, following Arkansas.
According to the Missouri Family Health Council, more than half of the patients in the state looking for planning services used Planned Parenthood in 2021.