KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Planned Parenthood is challenging Missouri's denial of claims for Medicaid payments for a second time in two years.
Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in Overland Park, Kansas, appealed Missouri's cutoff of their fiscal 2020 funding last week in Jackson County, Missouri, after an administrative law judge ruled against them last month.
Meanwhile, an appeal of the cutoff of 2019 funding is pending before the Missouri Supreme Court.
“It’s kind of a continuation of the same old song and dance,” said Charles Hatfield, Planned Parenthood’s attorney.
Republican lawmakers in Missouri have for years sought to stop any taxpayer money from going to Planned Parenthood, even clinics that do not provide abortions.
But legislators struggled with “loopholes" that allowed Planned Parenthood clinics that provide other healthcare to continue receiving funding. Abortion opponents finally succeeded by blocking money to any facility affiliated with others that perform abortions.
Lawmakers were able to stop money from going to Planned Parenthood by forgoing some federal funding to avoid requirements that the clinics be reimbursed if low-income patients go there for birth control, cancer screenings and other preventative care. Missouri instead now uses state money to pay for those services.
Planned Parenthood argues that some of its chapters provide preventative health care and not abortion, and therefore shouldn't be financially penalized.
In all, the state has withheld roughly $1 million from Planned Parenthood over the past two fiscal years.
Planned Parenthood has 12 clinics in Missouri, but only one of them performs abortions. That St. Louis clinic is the state's only remaining abortion clinic and is in a battle with state regulators over its license. No ruling on the license is expected before late February.
An independent review of Kansas’ rising electricity prices shows the
current system for setting rates could use some improvements.
In a lengthy report requested by state legislators
and submitted by London Economics, analysts concluded three main
things: The current ratemaking process has been slightly balanced in
favor of utilities, regulators are limited in their ability to protect
consumers from paying for underused investments (such as aging coal
plants), and additional bill surcharges and have been a key driver of
The report looked at rates from all Kansas
electric utilities — from co-ops to municipals to Evergy, the largest
utility in the state with about 1.5 million customers.
some near-term recommendations,” Evergy Chief Customer Officer Chuck
Caisley said. “But the report doesn’t say, ‘Do this and rates will go
down’ on any page, any graph, any appendix in the entire thing.”
wanted an independent organization to look into the effectiveness of
current ratemaking practices and whether there were any options
available to state regulators or the legislature to help rates become
regionally competitive again.
The report, which came out Wednesday, offered three main suggestions.
The Kansas Legislature should create a state energy plan and require
utilities to regularly submit an integrated resource plan, or IRP.
state’s plan would allow the legislative and executive branches to set
short and long-term goals about pricing, future transmission needs and
renewable energy, giving regulators a clear framework for
decision-making. And the IRP would encourage utilities to use the most
cost-effective methods for meeting the state’s goals.
Suggestion 2: Lawmakers
should consider performance-based regulation, with the state setting
targets to incentivize electric companies to be more efficient. They
would then be rewarded for that, rather than solely for building more
power plants or transmission lines.
Suggestion 3: The
legislature should make laws so that utilities can refinance their
loans on older, uneconomic investments. This is a process known as
securitization and could potentially ease the financial burden when
utilities have to shut down coal-fired power plants and other, less
profitable long-term investments.
generally supports the recommendations, Caisley said, but working out
the details of any proposed legislative changes would be important. He
added that Evergy is already working on an IRP as a condition of the
merger between Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light.
also applauded Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly for proposing to work on a new
state energy plan last year, well before this report recommended it.
are thrilled that we have a governor that realizes that firm policy
direction is important for consumers and it’s important for utilities,”
Advocacy groups, such as the Kansas Industrial Consumers
Group, which lobbied for the independent study, are worried the state’s
high electricity rates are bad for businesses.
have prospered in the last decade way above what the S&P 500 is,”
organization president Jim Zakoura said, “while the ratepayers in Kansas
have seen their rates increase 70%.”
He said the best chance of
Kansas seeing competitive rates again is for the legislature to take the
recommendations seriously and make sure they’re implemented.
Barnett is the executive director of the Climate and Energy Project, a
clean-energy advocacy group. She said state lawmakers and regulators
need to finally start planning for grid modernization and the rapid
shift to renewable energy.
“It’s time to start talking about different ratemaking structures,” she said.
the report concludes that there is no single, easy fix to reducing
Kansas’ electricity rates. Each option considered comes with
implementation costs and risks.
The report is the first part of a
two-part study; the second part will look at more specific policy
choices, such as how to integrate electric vehicles and whether advanced
energy technologies like battery storage and microgrids will help
consumers. It must be finished by July 1.
Legislators in the
House and Senate Utilities Committees are expected to be briefed on the
report’s findings when the session begins next week.
Grimmett reports on the environment, energy and natural resources for
KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on
or email him at [email protected] The Kansas News Service
is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains
Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and
their connection to public policy.