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Attorney General Healey looking to help overturn rollback of contraception mandate

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BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey today led state attorneys general in filing two separate amicus briefs asking the courts to stop the Trump Administration from rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

The amicus briefs, filed Monday in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Northern District of California, support lawsuits filed by the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and California, respectively. Monday’s filings ask the courts to issue a national preliminary injunction stopping the federal government from implementing new regulations that authorize employers with a religious or moral objection to block their employees and their employees’ dependents from receiving insurance coverage for contraceptive care and services.

“Decisions about birth control are for women and their families to make, not their employers,” AG Healey said. “This law is essential to the equality of women and the economic security of families.”

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 their employees. 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 ones, with no out-of-pocket costs.

In the briefs, the state attorneys general argue that the new regulations threaten the health, wellbeing, and the economic stability of hundreds of thousands of residents by depriving them of contraception coverage. As a result, the attorneys general contend their states will be forced to spend millions of dollars to provide their residents with state-funded replacement contraceptive care and services. The states further argue that the expanded religious exemption included in the final regulations will cause women in every single state to lose contraception coverage and thus the courts should impose a preliminary injunction.

“Access to contraception advances educational opportunity, workplace equality, and financial empowerment for women; improves the health of women and children; and reduces healthcare-related costs for individuals, families, and States,” the state attorneys general write in both briefs.

On the same day that interim versions of these rules were issued in October 2017, AG Healey filed suit over 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 that stopped implementation of the interim rules. The district court ruled that the regulations violated the Administrative Procedure Act. In a separate case, Pennsylvania also successfully obtained a nationwide injunction.

Joining AG Healey in filing the amicus brief in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

Joining AG Healey in filing the amicus brief in the Northern District of California are the attorney generals of Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Oregon.

These amicus briefs were 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, Liz Carnes Flynn of AG Healey’s Health Care Division, Gabrielle Crossnoe of AG Healey’s Consumer Protection Division, and Kristen Salera and Colleen Frost of AG Healey’s Civil Investigations Division.

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