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Missouri Supreme Court rules that state must reimburse Planned Parenthood for services

Missouri must reimburse Planned Parenthood for medical services, the state Supreme Court ruled this week.

At issue is House Bill 2011, which is the Department of Social Services appropriations bill for the fiscal year of 2019, Courthouse News Service reported. The bill states, “No funds shall be expended to any abortion facility as defined in Section 188.015, or any affiliate or associate thereof.”

The Missouri Medicaid Audit and Compliance Unit notified Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region that its reimbursement claims for 2019 were denied due to its status as the state’s lone abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood unsuccessfully appealed the decision to the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission and then filed a petition for review in the St. Louis City Circuit Court, which ruled in the clinic’s favor and found the funding provision unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

“When the meaning of the general law is clear, there is no need for ‘guidance’ in an appropriation bill,” Judge Paul C. Wilson wrote for the majority. “As a result, the language in section 11.800 seeking to disqualify certain authorized providers based on services they provide separately and apart from the MO HealthNet program – and for which no MO HealthNet payments can be made – is a naked attempt to use HB2011 both to appropriate funds for various purposes and to amend sections [of state law].”

The lone dissenter, Judge Zel M. Fischer, said he would hold that the provision is constitutional.

“Even if one accepts the principal opinion’s assertion that an appropriation bill that amends a general law contains multiple subjects, I still do not agree that §23 is violated, because §23 expressly allows appropriation bills to embrace an unlimited amount of subjects, so long as they relate to the appropriation of money,” he wrote. “By disregarding the constitution’s plain language in favor of policy considerations, the principal opinion sets a dangerous precedent in which I cannot acquiesce.”

Gerard Nieters, Legislative Director of Missouri Right to Life, said in a press release that the decision is “yet another case of liberal activist judges substituting their opinion for that of the legislature.”

“The Missouri legislature clearly stated in its 2019 appropriations bill that its Medicaid Family Planning funds not be paid to abortion providers or its affiliates. But the court claimed that the prohibition of the payment of funds to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates was unconstitutional. Thus, Missourian’s tax dollars will continue to indirectly fund abortions via Family Planning payments,” Nieters said.

“Coming on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down Louisiana’s law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in order to protect the health of women who have an abortion, the pro-life community is reeling from a one-two punch,” he continued.

“Missouri Right to Life will continue to work with the Missouri legislature to insure that future Missouri moneys not be paid to abortion providers. Be assured that we will continue the fight to protect the lives of unborn babies and the health of their mothers.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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