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Health

Planned Parenthood Again Challenges Missouri's Cutoff Of Medicaid Payments

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Dan Margolies
/
KCUR 89.3
Planned Parenthood argues that the cutoff violates the Missouri Constitution.

For the second time in two years, Planned Parenthood is challenging Missouri’s denial of its claims for Medicaid payments.

The first time Missouri cut off the organization’s Medicaid funding was in fiscal 2019, after the legislature enacted an appropriations bill denying it reimbursement under the program.

Now Planned Parenthood’s Overland Park affiliates are challenging the state’s cutoff of their fiscal 2020 funding. An administrative law judge ruled against them last month and Planned Parenthood wants a Jackson County judge to overturn the ruling.

“It’s kind of a continuation of the same old song and dance,” said Charles Hatfield, Planned Parenthood’s attorney.

In all, the state has withheld roughly $1 million from Planned Parenthood over the past two fiscal years.

About 7,000 Missouri Medicaid patients rely on Planned Parenthood for a broad array of health services, including birth control, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted infections.

Federal law already bars the use of Medicaid funds for abortions, but the 2019 and 2020 appropriations bills cut off Medicaid funding for all Planned Parenthood's services, not just abortions.

Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis facility is Missouri’s sole remaining abortion provider, and the state is currently trying to strip it of its abortion license.

Missouri has some of the most restrictive abortion laws and regulations in the country. In August, parts of a Missouri law banning abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy were blocked by a federal judge. That case is on appeal.

Until July 2018, Missouri paid Planned Parenthood for providing non-abortion services to Medicaid beneficiaries. But the legislature’s fiscal 2019 appropriations bill cut off Medicaid funding for all of Planned Parenthood’s health care services.

After a St. Louis judge in June found the bill violated the state constitution and ordered the funding restored, the state appealed. That appeal is now pending before the Missouri Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the legislature cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in its fiscal 2020 appropriations bill. Four weeks ago, an administrative law judge rejected the organization's challenge of the cutoff, prompting Planned Parenthood’s appeal this week in Jackson County.

Hatfield said that in denying it Medicaid funding, the General Assembly had impermissibly legislated by appropriation.

He also said that by denying Medicaid beneficiaries the right to choose Planned Parenthood as their health care provider, Missouri had denied them equal opportunity under the Missouri Constitution.

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

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