JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri – Some Missouri senators want the Department of Social Services to block abortion providers from Medicaid funding for unethical behavior.
Following a special summer session to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA), the tax paid by health care providers that fund Missouri’s Medicaid program, Senate Chairs formed a committee to address concerns about the Medicaid funding going to abortion providers to dispel, such as Planned Parenthood.
The Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection met for the third time on Thursday since July. The focus of the hearing was on discussing a committee report making changes to the state’s Medicaid system. Senator Bill White, R-Joplin, chairs the committee and has read the six-page report.
“The state has the authority to establish qualification standards for Medicaid providers in Medicaid programs and to take action against providers who do not meet these standards,” White said.
One of the proposals would enable joint investigations against Medicaid providers under the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). This regulatory proposal would have to be approved by the members of the committee and then sent to the department.
“The committee urges the DSS and DHSS to work together on amending and expanding the existing rules to include the DSS’s compliance with all state laws,” said White.
These violations of state law include failure to comply with patient consent, failure to keep medical records, failure to cooperate with DHSS during an examination, failure to ensure adequate facilities and sterilized equipment, and failure to provide the women named with necessary printed matter Materials to make available to an extra-state abortion facility. “
White and other members asked the DSS and DHSS to draft emergency rules and put them into effect as soon as possible. As part of this change, DSS might consider revoking or denying a license based on DHSS reports.
Senator Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, is concerned the language may affect more healthcare providers than intended.
“If this is a back door attempt to invalidate Planned Parenthood, I am concerned about the impact it would have on access to health care,” said Arthur. “There doesn’t seem to be a solution for those who would feel this loophole.”
Senator Jill Schupp, D-Creve Couer, told the committee she feared the investigation could create a gap in health care for Missourians.
“I am concerned about what we are pushing forward and trying to move forward quickly, in a process that may withhold the necessary health care from our recipients,” said Schupp.
“I’m not sure how this will benefit the state or the beneficiary. I think this is intended to allow DSS more control without having to conduct its own investigation.”
A proposed legislative change in the report allows the state to deny or revoke Medicaid funding to MO HealthNet providers, such as abortion facilities, which in Missouri are just planned parenting, for unethical behavior.
“That Missouri has an interest in protecting unborn children during pregnancy and in ensuring respect for all human life from conception to natural death,” said White.
This change in the law would require the approval of the General Assembly when members return in January. Arthur said she couldn’t support the language because she feared it could hurt Medicaid funding across the state.
“Until there is assurance that we are complying, I believe we are taking a risk that I am not comfortable with,” said Arthur.
Planned Parenthood is already banned from using Medicaid funds for abortions. Another important part of the proposal means Missouri could force the closure of the Central West End site in St. Louis if an abortion facility like Planned Parenthood in another state fails to comply.
White said members are expected to sign the report in the coming days, with the report being sent to departments early next week.
The committee will meet again on October 4 to hear from MO Healthnet on transparency issues.