Seven state attorneys general lead suit over contraception rule
A coalition of seven state attorneys general has joined with a nun, a Catholic missionary and three Roman Catholic organizations to file a federal lawsuit in Lincoln, Neb., asking a judge to strike down HHS’ final rule that requires insurance plans to cover governmentapproved contraceptives. The lawsuit alleges that the contraception rule violates three clauses in the First Amendment as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing Catholic employers to either subsidize services and drugs they find morally objectionable or withdraw from the insurance market. Catholic missionary and Omaha resident Stacy Molai said she would rather drop the Cigna health plan she has through her missionary group, which does not have contraceptive coverage, than be forced to pay for a plan that allows services for others, even though she has an incurable chronic disease. The employers argue that they would have to screen their employees’ religious beliefs if the rule is upheld, or decide to drop coverage, driving more people into Medicaid. The state attorneys general who brought the suit represent Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. HHS announced in January that many Catholic organizations, including hospitals, would have to offer contraception coverage as part of a requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that insurance plans offer preventive health services without cost sharing. Earlier this month, the Obama administration modified the rule so insurers, not employers, would have to offer those services, which failed to mollify many critics (Feb. 13, p. 8).