Special Session: Fighting for Women’s Health & Medicaid

Last week, the governor called the Missouri General Assembly back to Jefferson City for an extraordinary legislative session to address the reauthorization of Missouri’s Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA).

The FRA ensures our state continues to receive billions in federal matching funds for Missouri’s Medicaid program. An FRA bill was not passed during the regular session because there was disagreement over an amendment that would restrict women on Medicaid from accessing birth control. Such an amendment would put Missouri out of compliance with federal law and risk our federal matching funds. Nonpartisan Senate analysts have said Missouri could lose around $4.6 billion in funding if the FRA is not passed.

Let me be clear – I am against blocking birth control for women on Medicaid. I am also against risking billions of dollars in health care funding because someone wants to play politics with people’s health.

For nearly thirty years, the Legislature has passed a ‘Clean FRA’ that does not block birth control. Unfortunately, it seems like every issue has become a political football these days as people hijack anything they think will give them leverage – even something as crucially important as the FRA.

During the Special Session, doctors who testified at the legislative hearing agreed that contraceptives like IUDs and Plan B are birth control, and it is medically dangerous to block access to these important, and potentially lifesaving, forms of healthcare.

After several days, my colleagues and I passed Senate Bill 1, a Clean FRA, just after midnight on Saturday, June 26. The FRA bill we passed extends the program for three years and does not include any new bans on birth control or healthcare providers. I want to express my sincere gratitude for the women Senators who worked together on the final language protecting birth control for countless women throughout the state.

Senate Bill 1 has been sent to the Missouri House of Representatives for their approval. It is our goal to have this legislation passed and sent to the governor’s desk by Wednesday, June 30, the end of the fiscal year. I am hopeful the House passes the Senate version of the bill to ensure our state does not lose crucial funding for our Medicaid program.

Thank you for reading this week’s legislative column. If you have any questions regarding anything going on in the Missouri Senate, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 573-751-4106.

It is an honor and privilege to represent each of you in the Missouri Senate.