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Today, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLRSWMO) and Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP), filed a lawsuit in state court against the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) for refusing to reimburse care provided to Missouri patients through the Medicaid program. The DSS decision takes effect at the end of day Friday, March 11, and would bar DSS from reimbursing Planned Parenthood for services covered under MO HealthNet — the State’s Medicaid program — including birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and other non-abortion care. This attempt to “defund” Planned Parenthood comes after Gov. Parson signed a supplemental budget bill that funds programs and services through June. Despite this "defunding," Planned Parenthood’s 11 Missouri health centers will continue caring for MO HealthNet patients at no cost for now. 

Not only does this defunding defy a 2020 state Supreme Court ruling that held that defunding Planned Parenthood through the state’s budget is unconstitutional, it also violates federal Medicaid law, which protects every patient’s freedom to choose any willing and qualified provider, including Planned Parenthood, for family planning care. Missouri is the fourth state to violate Medicaid law by refusing to allow Planned Parenthood to participate in the program. Planned Parenthood will launch a nationwide petition calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Biden administration to enforce federal law before more state politicians take aim at patients with low incomes, which disproportionately impacts women and people of color. 

Statement from Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri:

“For more than a year, we’ve warned the Biden administration: Missourians are in danger of losing access to their health care. Now, we are pleading with them: enforce Medicaid law immediately. Missouri is the fourth state to violate federal law, and without enforcement, it won’t be the last.

“While we fight this defunding in court, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri will continue serving MO HealthNet patients at no cost to them. That is our unbreakable commitment to the thousands of Medicaid patients who rely on us for life-saving health care.”

Statement from Emily Wales, interim president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains

“As a four-state provider of health care, no one has seen more patients fleeing Texas after lawmakers put their own interests ahead of patients’ rights. We know what a crisis in care looks like, and conservative politicians are determined to force Missourians to endure the same horrors. The Medicaid law is clear, and Missouri is in desperate need of providers committed to seeing everyone who needs them. Planned Parenthood is just that: a provider whose doors are open. We’re fighting on behalf of our patients, both to combat the Parson administration’s targeting of those in need and the Biden administration’s failure to intervene.”

According to the Missouri Family Health Council, in 2021, Planned Parenthood health centers served 52 percent of all patients who rely on family planning safety net providers in the state. Other providers cannot absorb the thousands of patients impacted by defunding laws. That’s why Planned Parenthood health centers have vowed to keep serving MO HealthNet patients at no cost.

As abortion access and rights hang by a thread, politicians are intentionally taking aim at preventive services covered under publicly funded programs like MO HealthNet. It’s clear politicians won’t stop at banning abortion. Congresswoman Cori Bush joined Texas legislators in a letter writing campaign last year urging the Biden administration to take action and protect patients in their states who already face unprecedented threats to reproductive freedom. Planned Parenthood is doing its part to fight for patients, and it’s time for the Biden administration to do the same.

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