KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Birth Control Coverage Mandate Triggers Numerous Legal Challenges

Lawsuits have been filed by Catholic dioceses as well as private employers who say this provision of the health law conflicts with their religious beliefs.

The New York Times: A Flood of Suits Fights Coverage of Birth Control
In recent months, federal courts have seen dozens of lawsuits brought not only by religious institutions like Catholic dioceses but also by private employers ranging from a pizza mogul to produce transporters who say the government is forcing them to violate core tenets of their faith. Some have been turned away by judges convinced that access to contraception is a vital health need and a compelling state interest. Others have been told that their beliefs appear to outweigh any state interest and that they may hold off complying with the law until their cases have been judged. New suits are filed nearly weekly (Bronner, 1/26).

The Associated Press: Obama Birth Control Mandates Loosen Lawsuits
The legal challenges over religious freedom and the birth control coverage requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul appear to be moving toward the U.S. Supreme Court. Faith-affiliated charities, hospitals and universities have filed dozens of lawsuits against the mandate, which requires employers to provide insurance that covers contraception for free. However, many for-profit business owners are also suing, claiming a violation of their religious beliefs (Zoll, 1/26).

KHN earlier, related coverage: More ACA Lawsuits: The 'Contraceptive Mandate' Versus Religious Freedom (Taylor, 12/13/2012).

Bloomberg: Catholic Church Birth Control Suit Thrown Out By Judge
A Catholic Church challenge to the birth-control mandate in the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul was thrown out by a federal judge who said it’s too early to hear the lawsuit. Regulations governing the provision of birth control in the law are likely to be supplanted by new rules, making it premature to decide the case now, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington decided today in a case filed by the Archdiocese of Washington and four other Catholic nonprofit groups. “If after the new regulations are issued, plaintiffs are still not satisfied, any challenges that they choose to bring will be substantially different from the challenges in the current complaint,” Jackson wrote (Zajac, 1/25).

In related news --

The Hill: Coburn Bill Would Restrict Abortion In Plans Created By Healthcare Law
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced a bill Friday to ban abortion coverage in new healthcare plans created by President Obama's reform law. ... The healthcare law states that one multi-state plan must not cover abortion, but others can. Under Cobrun's bill, abortion coverage would be prohibited in all multi-state plans, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest or when the life of the pregnant woman is at stake (Baker, 1/25).

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