The Missouri State Senate on Friday night voted to renew a hospital tax that provides some $4 billion annually for Medicaid despite opposition from some GOP members trying to ban Planned Parenthood as a provider, the Kansas City Star reports.
The GOP-majority body voted 28-5 to pass the tax, known as the Federal Reimbursement Allowance or FRA, which expires Sept. 30, after Republican Gov. Mike Parson threatened to cut $722 million from the state budget if the tax was not renewed by July 1.
Lawmakers didn’t renew the tax during the regular session after it became tied to an effort to ban Medicaid coverage of some contraceptives and block government funding for Planned Parenthood.
State Sen. Bob Onder led a group of GOP senators in trying to amend the bill and remove Planned Parenthood, the only abortion provider in the state, out of th program, but the move found resistance from a bipartisan group of senators and Republican Gov. Michael Parson, who threatened significant budget cuts if the state lost any federal funding.
“The question for us is whether we’re just going to roll over and play dead,” Onder said, according to the Star, calling it a “sad day” for the Senate.
“We talk about pushing back against federal government overreach and we talk about pushing back against the liberal activist judiciary but then when it comes time to do anything about it, we get weak-kneed.”
Women’s health services advocates and some Democrats backed Onder's efforts.
“The message is clear: it is not a winning strategy to use birth control – which is essential healthcare – as a bargaining chip,” Michelle Trupiano, executive director of the Missouri Family Health Council, which supports broader access to contraception said in the story.
Parson, who is pro-life, said that not going along with Onder should not brand him as pro-abortion, or pro-choice, but understand the consequences to recipients of the program if federal funds were withheld by removing Planned Parenthood from Medicaid.
“I’m going to say this to my fellow colleagues who are pro-life: you know, Sen. Onder really doesn’t have the ability to decide who’s pro-life and who’s not when it really comes down to it,” Parson told local radio station 97.1 FM on Friday. “He may have his opinion, but we don’t need to have somebody put a brand on us, a stamp on us saying hey, we’re pro-life or not.”
GOP Sen. Mike Cierpiot also opposed Onder’s move unless protections were in place so that the state would not lose federal money.
“A pro-life position is to make sure our seniors in nursing homes, our pregnant women on Medicaid and neonatal care and families with developmental disabilities have got the funding for the resources they need,” Cierpiot said. “It’s a much bigger issue than the other issues with defunding Planned Parenthood.”
The bill is expected to face some opposition in the House but is expected to pass because that chamber has already approved multiple renewals earlier this year, the newspaper said.
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