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Parson decries FRA battle, ‘narrow political interests’

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson outlined the economic effects of a failure to renew the federal reimbursement allowance (FRA) Monday, pointing to the group of legislators who stalled the process. 

“We’re laying out a grim reality our state is facing if the federal reimbursement allowance and related programs are not extended,” Parson told reporters. “Narrow political interests cannot hold hostage vital health care funding and the success of our economy. … My administration is ready to act on compromises that have previously been agreed upon. Our solution addresses the concerns that have been raised while keeping Missouri federally compliant.”

“For those that want to move the goalpost yet again, know that you and you alone will own this and the devastating effects on Missourians and our economy if the FRA is not extended,” he continued. 

Parson outlined a funding gap of nearly $1.4 billion over the next two years, including an $18 million impact on colleges and universities and $10 million to community colleges with other funding priorities — including A+ and dual credit programs, foster and adoption services, health care, and transportation — on the line. 

Parson gave lawmakers until noon Tuesday to come up with a compromise to pave the way for a special session with a goal for lawmakers to return to Jefferson City Wednesday. The deadline would give legislators just enough time to pass the bill before the start of the next fiscal year without the need for withholds.

Parson’s spokeswoman told a reporter that lawmakers would likely work through the weekend to hit the deadline. 

The conflict over the FRA renewal derailed the last days of session as a group of Republican members went to war over pro-life language that failed to make it to the floor as part of the reauthorization bill. 

Parson met with lawmakers last week to come to a compromise on the controversial measure; the group worked to come to a consensus on the length of reauthorization, language prohibiting Medicaid funding for abortion providers and affiliates, and restricting the program from covering family planning services that include certain abortifacients, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs when used to induce an abortion. 

Parson was expected to issue the call last Friday, but a breakdown in negotiation further stalled the issue. He said a call would not “forfeit pro-life policies.

The program taxes health care providers — including ambulances, nursing homes, pharmacies, hospitals, and facilities for the intellectually disabled — which is then matched by federal dollars at a higher rate, reimbursing the providers and leaving the state with extra money by reducing the burden on the state’s Medicaid program. 

Failure to reauthorize the FRA could result in a loss of up to $5.7 billion in federal funding — which includes money from the American Rescue Plan — and could mean budget cuts to education or social services, according to an analysis from the Missouri Budget Project. 

“The problem with trying to appease extremists is they cannot be appeased. Once you give into their demands, they always want more,” House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade said in a statement. “House Democrats support passage of a clean FRA that isn’t tied to unrelated issues, just like every previous renewal bill enacted in the last three decades. If the governor and the Republican legislative supermajorities can’t get this done, they will be responsible for the devastating budget consequences that follow.”

Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.