Monday MONITOR

Monday, January 9, 2013                                                                                                                             

Contact:  Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717 (c)

WELCOME BACK TO RETURNING CHAMPIONS FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH, AND WELCOME TO SEVERAL NEW ONES!

     New members, returning former members, or members in a new chamber include: Senators Scott Sifton (D-01), Jason Holsman (D-07), and Paula LeVota (D-11), as well as Representatives Bill Otto (D-70), Sue Meredith (D-71), Courtney Curtis (D-73), Kim Gardner (D-77), Michael Butler (D-79), Gina Mitten (D-83), Bob Burns (D-93), Vicki Lorenz Englund (D-94), Mike Frame (D-111), TJ McKenna (D-114) and Charlie Norr (D-132). Congratulations; we look forward to working with you all to ensure access to the full range of women’s health services!

     And, of course, congratulations and welcome back to Governor Jay Nixon, Attorney General Chris Koster, Treasurer Clint Zweifel, and Secretary of State Jason Kander

GOVERNOR NIXON TO INCLUDE MEDICAID EXPANSION IN BUDGET

     PPMO congratulates Governor Nixon on taking a firm stand on including Medicaid expansion, as outlined in the Affordable Care Act, in the budget he will submit this month. Several studies have shown that this expansion saves money in the short- and long-term and is the morally right thing to do for the health and well-being of Missouri families.

     A poll by the MO Foundation For Health (Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group, 10/18-10/24/2012 of 1416 adults) found that 71% of Missourians favor Medicaid and 52% support expanding the program (52% favor to 18% oppose). In addition, Missourians believe their state government bears responsibility for ensuring access to affordable healthcare and that it should act in its next session even if that requires raising taxes [PPMO emphasis added].

JUDGE BLOCKS MISSOURI INSURANCE LAW ON BIRTH CONTROL

December 22, 2012 | Associated Press| FOX News 2 (excerpted)

JEFFERSON CITY, M)—A federal judge on Friday blocked a new Missouri law that requires insurers to exclude birth control coverage for moral objectors, ruling that it conflicts with an insurance mandate under President Barack Obama's health care law. […] The law appeared to be the first in the nation to directly rebut an Obama administration policy that requires insurers to cover birth control at no additional cost to women.

     U.S. District Judge Audry Fleissig wrote in her order that there "appears to be an irreconcilable conflict" between the state and federal laws that puts insurance companies in an awkward position. If they were to comply with Missouri's law, insurers could be subject to federal penalties for not abiding by the contraception mandate. Yet insurers also could face financial penalties from the state insurance department for failing to follow the Missouri law. "Insurers are placed in an untenable position as they cannot comply with both statues at the same time," Fleissig wrote, noting that the U.S. Constitution gives preference to federal laws over state laws.

     State Sen. John Lamping, a Republican from suburban St. Louis who sponsored the law, said he was neither surprised nor discouraged by the court ruling. "That's the logical thing that I thought would ultimately occur post-election," when Obama defeated Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, he said. "Clearly, this is an issue at the federal level that remains unresolved." […] If the federal requirement ultimately is struck down by a higher court -- or Congress someday changes the contraception mandate -- then the Missouri law likely would be upheld, he said.

     The challenge to Missouri's law was brought by the Missouri Insurance Coalition, which represents the insurance industry. The court ruling said the state insurance department already had issued a cease and desist order against at least one of the insurers in the coalition, alleging it was "engaging in fraud" by violating Missouri's contraception-exemption law. Friday's restraining order says the state insurance department may approve policies with a contraception exemption but cannot reject insurance policies because they lack an exemption for moral and religious objectors. The judge said a hearing for a preliminary injunction would be set later.

AS ALWAYS, PRE-FILED BILLS CONTINUE TO SEEK MORE WAYS TO RESTRICT ACCESS TO WOMEN’S HEALTH

     Sen. Scott Rupp (R-02) pre-filed SB84, a Reproductive Health Denial bill identical to the last versions of HB1541 and SB657 from 2012, which expands the existing medical refusal language currently in MO law. While the bills last year covered a broad array of services, the final versions—and the starting point for this bill—are specific to reproductive health.  “Medical professionals” and “health care institutions” are granted protections if they refuse to provide "abortion, abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, sterilization which is not medically necessary, assisted reproduction, human cloning, human embryonic stem-cell research, human somatic cell nuclear transfer, fetal tissue research, and non-therapeutic benefit fetal experimentation and no longer includes any phase of patient medical care."  

     Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger (R-108) and Sen-elect Wayne Wallingford (R-27) pre-filed HB31 and SB50 respectively.  Both bills are also similar to ones filed last year that would preclude any local municipality or political subdivision from enacting ordinances that might limit the ability of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) to “freely assemble and to freely engage in religious practices and speech without governmental interference.”  CPCs pose as medical clinics, but offer religious-based counseling in an attempt to discourage women from seeking abortions. They are known to provide misleading and inaccurate information to women.

     In addition, several bills have been filed that deal with tax credits including a reauthorization of the ‘pregnancy resource center’ tax credit. As noted above, these fake “clinics” employ religiosity, misinformation, and over-blown promises of assistance to persuade women to continue their pregnancy. Despite well documented cases of Crisis Pregnancy Centers providing false and misleading information to vulnerable women, there is no requirement for CPC’s to provide medically factual and accurate information in order to qualify for tax credits.  Legislative Research released a mandated review last year that stated: “Oversight was unable to determine if the program generates additional donations or simply gives taxpayers an additional break for donations that they would have made regardless. Therefore, Oversight is unable to determine if the original intent of the legislation (generation of additional donations to local pregnancy resource centers) has been achieved.”

40th ANNIVERSARY OF ROE V. WADE

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark US Supreme Court decision—Roe v. Wade—legalizing access to safe, legal abortion. To celebrate, join PPMO and coalition partners at one of the following events:

  • KANSAS CITY. Tuesday, January 22, 6:00 to 8:30pm at The Screenland Crossroads, 1656 Washington. Join Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri for an evening with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, followed by the short film Motherhood by Choice and guest speakers who will remind us where we have been and what lies ahead regarding our vigilance to keep abortion safe and legal in Kansas and Missouri. Tickets are$10 or $40. For more info: Sara Ruzicka, 913.312.5100 x247 or sara.ruzicka@ppkm.org.
  • COLUMBIA. Tuesday, January 22, 11:30am to 1:00pm. Join friends and advocates outside the Health Center and stand up for Roe and for Planned Parenthood.
  • ST LOUIS. Thursday, January 24, 7:00pm to 9:00pm at CRC, 5020 Waterman.  Join the Freedom of Choice Council in “Looking Back: Moving Forward” a celebration of 40 years of Roe. Keynote remarks by Rev. Traci D. Blackmon UCC and a farewell to Alison Gee after 30 years advocating for reproductive health. Complimentary appetizers, desserts, drinks. Tickets $10, $25, $50+. For more info: Alison Gee, 314.531.7526 ext 333.
  • SPRINGFIELD. Monday, January 28, 7:00pm at Q Enoteca, 308 W. Commercial Street. Celebrate with PPSLR & SWMO and Peggy Norr, wife of newly re-elected Representative Charlie Norr. Tickets $10, $25, $35+. Appetizers, desserts, soft drinks included; cash bar available. For more info: Crystal Brigman, 417.883.3800 ext 809 or crystal.brigman@ppslr.org.

PASSING THE TORCH TO THE NEWEST JUNIOR PP ADVOCATE—ARTHUR

     Not too many days after ensuring several outstanding electoral successes in Missouri, Lead PPSLR&SWMO Organizer Angie Postal, her husband Matt, and daughter Ginny, welcomed a son, Arthur. Art already looks good in PP pink and will no doubt join his sister in advocating for reproductive health in St. Louis and Jefferson City. Watch for him!

     And, handing on that torch to Art, Alison Gee is leaving the extended Planned Parenthood family and moving to Parents As Teachers where she will be the National Director of Public Policy and Advocacy. She is excited about the move and secure in the knowledge that the team—with all of its staff, volunteers, and junior associates—will continue to ensure a safe and healthy future for women, teens, and families in Missouri. And, watch for her, too!

WATCH FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD ADVOCATES UNDER THE DOME

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2013

www.ppmissouri.org | FB: PPMO Advocates | @PPMO_Advocates