JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.
Senate Bill 1, a clean Federal Reimbursement Allowance renewal, was introduced in the state House Monday morning. A clean FRA means there were no amendments.
The clean FRA passed the Senate on Saturday following a closed-door debate on Friday. It moved on to the House without the proposed amendment that would classify Plan B and certain types of IUDs as abortifacients--drugs that cause an abortion--and make them more difficult for women on Medicaid to receive.
Eleven Republicans broke from their party to vote in favor of a clean FRA. Among the 11 were Sen. Jeanie Riddle (R-Audrain) and Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Boone).
House Republican Rep. Nick Schroer (R-St. Charles) introduced three bills unrelated to the FRA on Monday. One bill, House Bill 2, diverts Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood services. Rep. Sara Walsh (R-Ashland) is a co-sponsor on HB 2.
"I strongly support ensuring no tax dollars fund abortion providers or their affiliates, and I have co-sponsored HB 2," Walsh said.
Rep. Betsy Folge said she is not surprised to see Republicans introduce legislation limiting access to abortion and contraceptives again.
"There's a time and place to have those debates but it's not when people's homes and people's care is being put in jeopardy," Folge said. "We have to do what we're here to do, which is to pass the FRA in time."
Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) is the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, where the bills filed today will be heard Tuesday. The committee is going to read, debate and vote on the bills in one day instead of breaking it between two days like usual. The House expects to vote on SB 1 Wednesday.
"The FRA, it's our third-largest source of revenue in the state. It's one of those rare taxes where the people being taxed want it," Merideth said. "It's actually a voluntary tax on medical providers like hospitals and it provides a whole lot of the funding for our Medicaid system as well as bringing down federal dollars that help support our Medicaid system."
Although Merideth has faith the House will pass a clean FRA without debate, Folge anticipates long days ahead.
"I think Wednesday will be again a very passionate debate," Fogle said. "There are people that are very invested in this topic on both sides of the aisle. And even within the Republican caucus themselves, I think there will be people offering amendments that change the current legislation, the FRA that we have."