JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri State Senators returned to the Capitol Wednesday for a special session to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance, or FRA.
The special session was called by Gov. Mike Parson, who warned failure to renew the FRA would cost the state $591 million in fiscal year 2022 and $788 million in fiscal year 2023.
The FRA is a tax paid by Medicaid providers including hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, pharmacies and other health care facilities in the state.
The federal government matches the money generated, which is returned to the state to offset the cost.
Some Republican lawmakers have opposed renewing the FRA unless there's language that forbids using Medicaid dollars for women's contraception.
Republican Sen. Bob Odner from St. Charles County dismissed claims he and his colleagues were playing the role of obstructionist.
“The narrative is you and I and others pro-lifers, people who are actually here to do what we said we will do when we ran for office, that we're somehow obstructionist, and we want Missouri to lose all this money that gets drawn down by the FRA. That is bunk," Odner said.
Sen. John Rizzo from Independence introduced legislation during the special session that would extend the FRA without blocking birth control.
“This isn’t a D versus R issue. It never has been in the past. This isn’t a pro-life, pro-choice issue. This is about them trying to ban birth control for women," Rizzo said.
Michelle Trupiano is executive director of Missouri Family Health Council and said women, especially those that are low-income, would be negatively impacted the most if funding for birth control was blocked.
“There are certain legislators that are conflating abortion and birth control, and what folks need to know is that these legislators are trying to take away access to certain forms of contraception, including emergency contraception," Trupiano said.
Trupiano said legal options would be explored if lawmakers are successful in blocking funding for contraception.
Senate lawmakers will continue to debate the FRA with a possible vote on Saturday. House lawmakers will return next week to take up the issue.
Lawmakers have a deadline of July 1.