BOSTON – Looking to protect the rights of millions of women in Massachusetts and across the country, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, October 6, sued the Trump administration for rolling back a requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.
The complaint, filed today in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, seeks to stop the federal government from enforcing a new regulatory rule that would authorize any employer 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 Trump administration’s actions today are a direct attack on women’s health and the right to access affordable and reliable contraception,” said Healey, in a statement.
“My office has been vigilant when it comes to fighting for health care coverage and ensuring equality in the workplace, and I sued the Trump administration today to stop this rule and defend critical protections for millions of women in Massachusetts and across the country,” said the Massachusetts Attorney General.
Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, employers who provide health insurance coverage to their employees have been required to include coverage for contraception, at no cost to the employee, with narrow exceptions for religious non-profit organizations and for closely held, for-profit companies. As a result of the ACA, more than 55 million women in the United States, including 1.4 million in Massachusetts, have access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs.
The complaint estimates that the new rule would affect thousands of Massachusetts employees, as well as their many dependents. Among other things, many women are likely to turn to MassHealth – the state’s Medicaid plan – for coverage, which will place a financial burden on the state.
Today’s complaint alleges that the new rule is unconstitutional by allowing the federal government to endorse certain religious beliefs over a woman’s right to make choices about her own health care.
The complaint also alleges that the rule discriminates against women and denies equal protection under the law by allowing employers to assert religious beliefs as a justification for denying critical benefits, while leaving coverage for men unchanged. Additionally, the Trump Administration is taking away the right to contraceptive coverage – a right that millions of women rely on – without any opportunity for public comment and without a careful review of the issue, in violation of federal law.
Earlier this week, AG Healey testified in front of the Massachusetts State Legislature in support of a bill that would ensure that every woman in the state has access to affordable and reliable access to the birth control option that is best for her. If passed, the Contraceptive ACCESS bill, An Act Relative to Advancing Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security in our State, would require coverage without cost-sharing for all unique forms of FDA-approved contraceptives, allow doctors to prescribe a 12-month supply of contraceptives, and help eliminate barriers to timely access to emergency contraceptives.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Julia Kobick of AG Healey’s Administrative Law Division, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Burke of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, Assistant Attorney General David Brill of AG Healey’s Health Care Division, and Jonathan Miller, Chief of AG Healey’s Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau.