Governor Mike Parson is calling Missouri lawmakers back to Jefferson City Wednesday lunchtime to renew an important tax on the Medicaid program – and, in concession to far-right Republicans, pass laws that restrict state health payments for certain forms of birth control and to abortion facilities .
He called for a special session on Tuesday lunchtime deadline he had set lawmakers to reach an agreement on the extension or face deep government budget cuts.
The deal is sure to be opposed by Democrats who have called for tax renewal to be separated from anti-abortion efforts.
As governor, Parson has the power to closely demand what lawmakers can consider during the special session. His call will allow lawmakers to consider banning Medicaid coverage of certain forms of birth control, such as IUDs and emergency contraceptives. Most anti-abortion lawmakers consider it synonymous with abortion.
Parson’s call will also enable them to enforce a ban on government payments to “abortion facilities” through the Uninsured Women’s Health Program, a government-funded program outside the Medicaid program. It includes family planning services, sexually transmitted disease treatments, and Pap smears for some low-income women whose income has excluded them from the traditional Medicaid program, which is largely dependent on federal funding.
The ban on Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, whose subsidiaries operate the state’s only abortion clinic in St. Louis and 11 family planning clinics across the state, has been the latest obstacle for Republicans to reach an agreement to renew the Medicaid tax. Under federal law, Medicaid already doesn’t cover abortions.
The inclusion of the planned parenting provision in Parson’s special session signals that a larger number of Republicans who have a super majority in the legislature have approved the party’s tougher anti-abortion wing.
But it doesn’t completely satisfy Senator Bob Onder, a Lake St. Louis Republican who campaigned to ban Medicaid Planned Parenthood payments. He noted on Twitter that the state family planning program has a smaller budget than the traditional Medicaid program.
The tax, which generates $ 1 billion in revenue annually and enables the state to raise more than $ 3 billion in federal funding, has become a negotiating tool for the Senate’s most vocal anti-abortionists. They insist that any extension also include the bans on birth control favored by the imperial republican Paul Wieland.
The question split the Senate, which postponed its legislative term in May in the chaos without passing the tax renewal. Parson said he would not call a special meeting to extend it until a deal is on the table. Last week, his office appeared to have reached a preliminary settlement with the Republicans in the Senate that included banning birth control. But one group led by Onder said it wasn’t enough without limiting payments to Planned Parenthood as well.
The move sparked concern among Democrats, health care advocates, and some Republicans that Missouri would risk violating federal laws that require Medicaid recipients to choose their health care provider freely.
“As I understand it, states cannot choose who gets federal dollars,” said Cody Smith, chairman of the Carthage House of Representatives, on Friday. “I hope we can continue to search for a solution that will allow us not to send any taxpayer money to abortion providers or their partners while keeping our federal funding intact.”
On Monday afternoon, Parson resorted to an ultimatum to break the stalemate: reach an agreement by Tuesday noon or he would impose drastic budget cuts on schools and universities, social services and capital improvement projects to fill the looming loophole that the tax expiry.
He accused Onder of “moving the goalposts” and “political maneuvers” and stood by his own anti-abortion record.
But on Tuesday, an hour before Parson’s deadline, Onder and six other senators, who are part of the Conservative caucus, signed a letter to the governor urging a special call for a meeting that “enacts laws to ensure taxpayers’ money does not go to.” Pay for Abortion Services “. . “
Parson’s appeal seems to partially reflect these demands.
“Let me make it clear that now is a time that requires leadership among lawmakers, and not an opportunity to play billions of dollars and millions of livelihood games to pursue narrow political interests,” he said.