Saturday, April 08, 2017

Missouri says no to federal money so it can say yes to restricting abortion (kelly Macias) · Friday, March 31, 2017, 10:01 pm

For women seeking abortions in Missouri, things just got even harder. For years, the state assisted low-income women in paying for family planning through a Medicaid program called Extended Women’s Health Services—a program funded by both the federal and state government. But now, a new law rejects $8.3 million in federal funds to the women’s health program, which means the state can now block all organizations in the state that provide abortions, including hospitals.

Other states, including Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Indiana, have tried to exclude abortion providers from Medicaid funds before, but courts have said that would violate a federal law that gives patients the right to choose their health care providers. Missouri hopes to get around that by rejecting the federal money. The rule has not been challenged in court.

Missouri's Medicaid program for women's health services currently serves nearly 70,000 low-income patients.

To make up for the lost federal funds, the state is increasing its own funding of women's health services for low-income residents. Under the new measure, Missouri will spend $8.3 million to create its own program in place of the federal program it has opted out of.

Many hospitals and other organizations will find their services impacted under the law. As a way of establishing eligibility for funds, the state government sent letters to five hundred different hospitals, clinics and service providers whom have the qualifications to perform abortions requiring them to attest that they do not perform abortion services. If they do not sign the forms, they will no longer be eligible for state funds for women’s health services. And, as is commonplace with similar restrictive measures in other states, this law does not include an exception for organizations that provide abortions to save the mother’s life.

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