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Missouri lawmakers say FRA a 'non-controversial bill,' following call for special session

Gov. Mike Parson: Session to begin Wednesday
Missouri special session possible to undo cuts to disabled
Posted at 10:03 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 23:44:46-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson called for a special session so lawmakers can renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance, or FRA.

Renewing the FRA would provide critical funding for MO HealthNet, the state's version of Medicaid. But this year, two Republican lawmakers want to attach an amendment to it limiting women's contraceptives and preventing Planned Parenthood from being a Medicaid provider.

The General Assembly adjourned in May without passing the extension.

Sen. Lauren Arthur (D-District 17) said the FRA has been renewed without controversy 16 times since 1992.

"This is a non-controversial bill that has been made very controversial by a couple extreme Republican legislators taking the bill hostage," Arthur said. "This is an outrageous and extreme position, and I am hopeful that my Senate colleges will agree to pass a clean version of FRA because billions of dollars in our Medicaid program really depends on the Senate doing the right thing."

If not, millions of dollars are on the line.

Parson said during a press conference on Monday that failure to extend the FRA before July 1 would cost the state $591 million in fiscal year 2022 and $788 million in FY 2023, which adds up to more than $1 billion cut from K-12 and higher education, social services, health care, nursing home and several other areas.

The possibility of such cuts frustrate lawmakers.

"It’s a nuts-and-bolts piece of legislation that got hung up this year because certain members of the majority party wanted to ban contraception for poor women in the legislation," Sen. Greg Razer (D-District 7) said, "which would put the entire program in jeopardy, would be against federal regulations."

Sen. Mike Cierpiot (R-District 8) told 41 Action News that lawmakers probably should have addressed FRA earlier in the legislative session.

"The later it gets, the harder it is to get compromise because the clock is against you," Cierpiot said. "So I wish we would have gotten it done earlier."

Even with politics in play, there's some consensus the FRA will be funded.

"I’m pretty confident we’ll get it done," Cierpiot said. "I’m not sure if it will be pretty or easy, but I think we will get the language done to reauthorize the FRA hopefully for two to three years."

Senators will begin the special session at noon on Wednesday. House members will go in next week to try and resolve the issue before July 1.