Missouri Republicans rejected $8.3 million in federal Medicaid funding the state was granted for women's health services because less than $400,000 of that funding would have gone to Planned Parenthood, the Associated Press reported over the weekend.
After finally dropping their threat to hold the president of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri in contempt, a rare move that would have carried jail time, Missouri Republicans passed a budget that takes millions out of the state's general revenues to fund family planning, sexually transmitted disease testing and pelvic exams at county health departments, without funding facilities that perform abortions.
Because the federal government does not allow states to simply strip Planned Parenthood out of larger Medicaid spending, in order to prevent the women's health care organization from receiving any tax payer dollars, Missouri had to reject all federal Medicaid funding for women's health services -- a loss of $8.3 million.
“If someone wants to go to Planned Parenthood, they’re free to do that,” Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaefer, chairman of the appropriations committee that crafted the budget, told the AP. “Taxpayers in Missouri just aren’t going to pay for it anymore,” he said, suggesting Medicaid patients go to county health departments instead.
Schaefer, who is running for Missouri attorney general, is so ardently anti-abortion that he recently threatened to shut down a University of Missouri doctoral student's research on the impact the GOP's restrictive forced 72-hour waiting period for abortions.
“I am all for unbiased academic research,” Schaefer said, accusing the public university of using taxpayer funds to “encourage or counsel a woman to have an abortion not necessary to save her life.”
“This does not appear to be unbiased academic research," he wrote in a letter to the university last fall.
According to a spokesperson for the regional chapter of Planned Parenthood, 7,000 of Planned Parenthood's 50,000 annual patients are covered by Medicaid. Republican budget staffers estimated that less than $400,000 in Medicaid payments go to Missouri’s 13 Planned Parenthood clinics annually.
At least a dozen other states have attempted to deprive Planned Parenthood of any public funding, including federal funding, spurred on by a series of deceptively edited videos that falsely purported to uncover the sale of illegal fetal tissue. The video's creator has since been charged with falsifying government records while Planned Parenthood has been cleared by countless state investigations and a grand jury that declined to charge America's largest women's healthcare provider.