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Missouri Sen. Bill White on Senate tensions, proposals affecting Planned Parenthood and Medicaid

State Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, speaks on the Missouri Senate floor on May 10, 2021.
Harrison Sweazea
Missouri Senate
State Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, speaks on the Senate floor in May.

Sen. Bill White joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Sarah Kellogg on the latest episode of Politically Speaking. Among the topics the Joplin Republican talked about was the work of a committee that he’s in charge of that’s looking into the state’s Medicaid spending on family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood.

White represents Missouri’s 32nd Senate District, which takes in Jasper, Newton and Dade counties. He served for eight years in the Missouri House before he was elected to the Senate in 2018.

Here’s what White talked about on the program:

  • His work on the Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection, which was established after a contentious special session involving a critical tax to fund Missouri’s Medicaid program.
  • One of the proposals White talked about was legislation that gives the state the ability to revoke any contracts with a provider that committed “fraud, abuse or unethical behavior” in a different state’s Medicaid program. Even though Missouri’s program doesn’t pay for abortions, it does pay for contraceptive services — which means the change could affect Planned Parenthood’s clinics in Missouri.
  • White also discussed the schism in his caucus between people aligned with GOP leadership and a group known as the Conservative Caucus. Tensions recently came to a head during the General Assembly’s veto session over who has the ability to override a gubernatorial objection.
  • He predicted how the GOP split could affect things like congressional redistricting and the need for the legislature to appropriate federal money that will help pay for Medicaid expansion.

White is an attorney who served in the Marine Corps. After working for an electric company in Chicago, he eventually moved to Joplin where his wife, Ellen Nichols, is a neurosurgeon at Freeman Health Systems.

White first won election to the Missouri House in 2010, succeeding House Speaker Ron Richard. Eight years later, White succeeded Richard again when he was elected to the 32nd District seat. He is running for another term in 2022.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Sarah Kellogg on Twitter: @sarahkkellogg

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.