KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Companies, College Challenging Health Law’s Contraception Coverage Mandate

One Michigan company won an injunction from a district court judge, as another company and a Texas college file lawsuits.

The Associated Press: Michigan Company Wins Round In Health Law Dispute
A Detroit-area company challenging the federal health care law's mandated contraception coverage won an early round in its lawsuit against the Obama administration. U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday barring the government from taking any action against Weingartz Supply Co., which has 170 employees and sells outdoor power equipment (White, 11/1).

The Hill: Federal Court Exempts Mich. Company From Contraception Mandate
The Michigan ruling is a narrow one, applicable only to the one company. It does not bar the Health and Human Services Department from implementing the policy nationwide, but it's nevertheless a small win for social conservatives who say the contraception policy violates the First Amendment. ... The judge did not rule on the question of whether the mandate is constitutional, but it granted the company an injunction, exempting Weingartz from enforcement while its constitutional claims are under debate (Baker, 11/1).

The Associated Press: Hobby Lobby Asks Judge To Block Health Care Law
An arts and craft supply company owned by a Christian family asked a judge Thursday to block a portion of the new federal health care law, claiming that mandated coverage for certain birth control violates its religious freedom rights. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.’s owners believe the use of morning-after and week-after birth control pills are tantamount to abortion because they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's womb. At a federal court hearing Thursday, a government lawyer said the drugs do not cause abortions and that the U.S. has compelling interest in mandating insurance coverage for them (Talley, 11/1).

The Dallas Morning News: Dallas' Criswell College Sues Over Federal Health Care Mandate To Provide 'Abortion-Inducing Drugs'
Criswell College sued the federal government Thursday over the constitutionality of a provision of the Affordable Care Act, saying it illegally forces the college to violate its religious beliefs by funding and making available "abortion-inducing drugs." The Southern Baptist Bible school east of downtown Dallas has joined numerous other religious institutions across the nation, including the Roman Catholic Church, in challenging the federal mandate that requires employers to cover contraception in their health insurance plans (Krause, 11/1).

NBC: Criswell College Sues Over Health Care Law
"It would be like asking an atheist, requiring an atheist, to buy a Bible or a vegetarian to buy a hamburger," said Jerry Johnson, university president." ... Johnson said Criswell College is in the process of renegotiating its health care coverage. When looking at its budget requirements for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, suing now made sense, he said. Johnson said the school's lawsuit does not challenge payments for traditional contraception methods such as birth control pills, only "abortion-inducing drugs and procedures" currently not covered in the college's health care plan (McIlwain, 11/1).

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