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Missouri AG Bailey talks hospitals, St. Louis circuit attorney, transgender healthcare


Attorney General Andrew Bailey took over for now U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt on Jan. 3, and in just under six months, the new top prosecutor of Missouri made several impactful decisions.

ABC 17 News sat down with the attorney general to ask about his time in office, and what's next.

Rural hospitals

Two rural hospitals in Mid-Missouri, one in Callaway County and one in Audrain County, closed in 2022, leaving many in the counties without immediate access to emergency care. Bailey confirmed his office opened an investigation into these Nobel Health-backed hospitals in March.

Noble Health sign in Callaway County before hospital closures

ABC 17: There was an investigation recently into some rural hospitals. Do you have an update into the investigation into why the Callaway and Audrain hospitals closed?

Bailey: Yeah, we're continuing to push that issue and investigate that. I mean, from our perspective, you can't rip people off by promising them insurance and then yank the rug out from under them, so we gotta continue to look into that, dig through the documents that we're receiving. So, investigation ongoing on that, but we continue to partner with anyone in the justice system who's willing to partner with us to hold wrongdoers accountable on that or any other issue.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced her resignation after backlash from state officials. Republicans in the General Assembly threatened to push forward legislation to remove her from office had she not stepped down.

Gov. Mike Parson announced his search for her replacement, an expedited process. Parson had announced online that the deadline to apply would be Monday.

ABC 17: Kim Gardner has announced her resignation effective June 1, but I've seen you push for her to step out of office even sooner. Why is that?

Bailey: Well it's about the rule of law and justice for victims in the City of St. Louis. Crime is a regional issue. Crime doesn't care that there's 114 counties plus the City of St. Louis in the State of Missouri. So that there's 46 different judicial circuits. You know, at the end of the day, a failure to enforce the law in the City of St. Louis has impacted the entire state in a negative way....

Protestors in the Missouri State Capitol on May 3, 2023, asking lawmakers to take their "hands off" St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner

ABC 17: We saw people just last week at the state Capitol who were asking for more local control. What do you say to them and to the people who want to pick their prosecutor?

Bailey: Well, they'll get a chance to do that here in just a few years. But we can't let one individual hold the rest of the state hostage. At the end of the day, this has reached a point of critical mass where she's unlawfully refusing to do her job.

Transgender healthcare access

Missouri is a nationwide leader in the amount of restrictions being placed on transgender youth. The state legislature passed two bills, one that would restrict minors from receiving gender transition care and another that would ban transgender students from women's sports. Parson expressed his intent to sign these bills.

Before those were passed, Bailey issues emergency rules restricting access to gender transition treatments unless a list of requirements was met. The rules faces legal challenges from the Missouri ACLU and were issued a stay from a Clay County judge. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 20.

Rally against several bills in the Missouri Legislature (two of which are passed now) on Feb. 7, 2023

ABC 17: The legislature sent a bill to the governor's office that would restrict gender transition care. Do you feel that your emergency rules would still be necessary if that's signed?

Bailey: The general assembly has made that policy distinction. It absolutely aligns with what we were trying to do in our rule, which is bring attention to the fact that these are experimental drugs that are harming patients... So, we're excited about the work the general assembly has done, we're proud to stand in the gap until they could get a bill passed, now we'll take the lead in defending that bill from what we know will be an eventual legal attack.

ABC 17: A Columbia school board member announced her resignation because of these laws and your rules, citing all these things happening here in Jefferson City as too much pressure for her. Are you concerned about people leaving the state and why do you push for these rules when people have made these promises?

Bailey: Yeah, I'm not concerned. I'm concerned about the patients who aren't actually receiving healthcare, who are being denied access to mental health treatment in the face of clinics pushing experimental drugs and experimental procedures that have long term health consequences. I'm concerned about the children who have been harmed or would be harmed absent legislative action.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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