JEFFERSON CITY – Today, the Missouri Legislature passed a budget bill that “defunds” Planned Parenthood, enacting a budget that blocks patients who rely on Medicaid from accessing preventive care like birth control, at a time when preventive care is more critical than ever as abortion will likely be banned in a matter of weeks. Missouri is the fifth state to “defund” Planned Parenthood after Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Federal Medicaid law protects the freedom of every patient to access care from their trusted providers, including Planned Parenthood. To date, the Biden administration has yet to intervene and protect patients’ federal rights.
If the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization becomes reality and the Court will overrule Roe v. Wade, Missouri’s “trigger ban” will take effect and abortion will be banned outright in the state. This means preventive care will be that much more important for patients with low incomes, particularly women and people of color who disproportionately rely on publicly funded programs like Medicaid because of racist and discriminatory policies politicians have already passed. It is not a coincidence that the patients who will have the hardest time accessing abortion in a post-Roe reality are the same patients who would be most impacted by this “defund” attack. In Missouri, Black women die at three times the rate of white women when it comes to pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the postpartum period.
Statement from Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri:
“We have waited patiently for the Biden administration to take action. We are running out of time. Patients need access to preventive care, now, more than ever. The Biden administration must put their words into action and enforce the law.
“Planned Parenthood will continue to absorb the cost of care for Medicaid patients for as long as we can sustain it. We have been down this road before, and we’ll use every tool at our disposal to fight back against Gov. Parson’s agenda.”
In a congressional hearing, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) intends on enforcing federal Medicaid law, which guarantees every Medicaid patient’s right to choose any willing and qualified provider for care, including Planned Parenthood. But CMS has not announced any enforcement actions.
Violating Medicaid law jeopardizes the federal share of Medicaid funding, which for Missouri amounts to 71% of the more than $10 billion total Medicaid spending. The federal government covers 90% of family planning costs in the Medicaid program.
Not only does this budget risk Missouri’s entire safety net, but it also defies a 2020 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that struck down as unconstitutional a previous attempt to “defund” Planned Parenthood through the budget. Planned Parenthood is currently suing Governor Parson and the Department of Social Services (DSS) over another “defund” attempt enacted in March.
Medicaid in Missouri already refuses to cover abortion services except in such narrow instances — rape, incest, and medical emergency — that no patient has qualified in the past year and a half. Because of this reality, Reproductive Health Services (RHS), the last abortion clinic in Missouri, is no longer in Missouri’s Medicaid program.