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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

AG HEALEY LEADS MULTISTATE COALITION OPPOSING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ROLL BACK OF CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE MANDATE

AG HEALEY LEADS MULTISTATE COALITION OPPOSING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ROLL BACK OF CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE MANDATEAmicus Brief Filed in Ninth Circuit in Support of Lawsuit Led by California

            BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey led a coalition of 16 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief strongly opposing the Trump Administration’s decision to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

The amicus brief, filed Tuesday afternoon with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, supports California, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia’s lawsuit seeking to stop the federal government from implementing new regulations that authorize most employers with a religious or moral objection to contraception to block their employees, and their employees’ dependents, from receiving health insurance coverage for contraceptive care and services. The federal government appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit after the district court issued a nationwide injunction stopping the rules from being implemented.

“These regulations are a direct attack on women’s health care and their right to access no-cost and reliable birth control from the provider of their choice,” said AG Healey. “My colleagues and I will continue to stand for a woman’s basic right to make decisions about her own health care. Employers cannot take that right away simply because they disagree with contraception.”

Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, most employers who provide health insurance coverage to their employees have been required to include coverage for contraception, at no cost to the employee. As a result of the ACA, more than 55 million women in the United States, including 1.4 million in Massachusetts, have access to a range of FDA-approved methods of birth control, including the longest-acting and most effective, with no out-of-pocket costs.

            In the brief, the state attorneys general argue that the regulations threaten the health and wellbeing as well as the economic stability of hundreds of thousands of residents by depriving them of contraception coverage. They also contend that this will then force their states to spend millions of dollars to provide their residents with replacement contraceptive care and services.

            “Contraception reduces the risk of unintended pregnancies, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and other negative health consequences,” the attorneys general wrote in the brief. “And by enhancing women’s control over their bodies, contraception gives them the power to choose if and how they pursue educational, employment, and familial opportunities.”
           
On the same day the rules were issued in October 2017, AG Healey filed suitover the roll back of the contraceptive coverage mandate. The Massachusetts case has been appealed to the First Circuit.

In December 2017, California, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia secured a nationwide preliminary injunction. The district court ruled that the regulations violated the Administrative Procedure Act. In a separate case, Pennsylvania also successfully obtained a nationwide injunction. Pennsylvania’s case is currently pending in the Third Circuit.

AG Healey successfully advocated last year for the passage of the Contraceptive ACCESS law, An Act Relative to Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in our State. The law requires all state-regulated plans to provide coverage without cost-sharing for all unique forms of FDA-approved contraceptives, allows doctors to prescribe a 12-month supply of contraceptives, and helps eliminate barriers to timely access to emergency contraceptives.

Joining AG Healey in filing this amicus brief are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

This amicus brief was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jonathan Burke of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division and Julia Kobick of AG Healey’s Administrative Law Division, with assistance from Jonathan Miller, Chief of AG Healey’s Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, and Legal Analyst Elizabeth Carnes Flynn of AG Healey’s Health Care Division.