Seven state at­tor­neys gen­eral lead suit over con­tra­cep­tion rule

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

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).

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