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Missouri lawmakers pass critical Medicaid funding bill

The tax, which was set to expire Sept. 30, is used to leverage billions of dollars in federal Medicaid funding

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill to renew a critical Medicaid funding tax hours before the deadline set out by Republican Gov. Mike Parson.

The House voted 140-13 in favor of extending the tax on hospitals, nursing homes and other medical providers. The tax, which was set to expire Sept. 30, is used to leverage billions of dollars in federal Medicaid funding.

Republican House leaders in a joint statement said they're "proud" to have passed the tax renewal and fund "vital programs that assist many of Missouri's most vulnerable citizens."

Note: The video above is from June 23.

Republican Rep. Cody Smith, the Budget Committee leader, told colleagues on the House floor that failing to renew the tax would have been "catastrophic" to the state's budget. 

The tax is expected to bring in $1.6 billion directly from the tax in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Thursday, according to an analysis by the Missouri Budget Project. That would draw down an additional roughly $2.9 billion in federal funding.

The nonprofit Missouri Budget Project analyzes state financial issues with an eye toward their impact on low-income residents.

Parson threatened $722 million in budget cuts if lawmakers failed to pass a bill renewing the tax by Thursday.

The tax renewal is typically uncontroversial, but the Republican-led Legislature failed to pass it during this year's regular legislative session after some anti-abortion lawmakers tried to use the legislation as a vehicle to block Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices. 

Parson called lawmakers back to the Capitol last week to act on the tax renewal. 

An effort to ban government funding for Planned Parenthood failed to pass the Senate last week, and the bill headed to Parson's desk also doesn't block that money. 

House lawmakers on Wednesday also passed a longshot bill that includes language stripping Planned Parenthood funding, although senators have already left the Capitol after passing the tax renewal last week.

Democratic House Minority Leader Crystal Quade called the House bill a "political stunt" to help Republican lawmakers win primaries and a waste of time for legislation that she said "is not going to cross the finish line."

She said debate on the House bill Thursday was "simply talking points for folks to cut commercials."

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