KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Seven States File Lawsuit To Block Obama Administration Birth Control Coverage Rule

The states joined with Catholic groups and individuals to file the first major lawsuit challenging these regulations.

The Wall Street Journal: Seven States File Lawsuit Over Contraception Rule
The lawsuit, led by Nebraska's attorney general, contends that the proposed rule violates Roman Catholic institutions' rights under the First Amendment to express their beliefs and practice their religion. The move is the first legal action by state attorneys general in the heated debate over the requirement (Radnofsky, 2/24).

The Associated Press: 7 States Challenge Birth Control Coverage Rule
It marks the first legal challenge filed by states. ... The rule, announced as part of the federal health care law, has come under fire from religious groups that object to the use of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. In response to the criticism, Obama administration officials have said they will shift the requirement from the employers to health insurers themselves (Schulte, 2/23).

Reuters: States, Catholics Sue Over Contraceptives Rule
Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas joined with Catholic organizations and two Catholics to fight the new rules issued earlier this month requiring healthcare coverage for free birth control (Pelofsky, 2/23).

Modern Healthcare: State Attorneys General Sue To Block Contraception Rule
The lawsuit alleges that the contraception rule violates three clauses in the First Amendment as well as the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing Catholic employers to either subsidize services and drugs they find morally objectionable or essentially withdraw from the insurance market (Carlson, 2/23).

The Hill: Seven States Sue Over Contraception Mandate
The Health and Human Services Department has said it will delay the requirements for religious employers for one year. But the states’ lawsuit, which was joined by several Catholic organizations, states that HHS has already finalized the rule and therefore Catholic institutions are subject to the mandate now (Baker, 2/23).

CNN (Video): Seven States Sue Government Over Contraceptive Mandate
The issue has become a political flashpoint in a presidential election year .. Officials from the White House and the Department of Justice had no comment on the pending litigation. However, it is not the first court challenge to the Obama administration's new mandate on contraceptive coverage (Cohen, 2/23).

Miami Herald: Florida Joins Multi-State Suit Over Obama Contraception Requirement 
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said requiring religious organizations to include contraception, sterilizations and related services as part of healthcare coverage violates religious protections in the U.S. Constitution. ... The Obama administration has defended its decision, saying the rule assures that a woman can have access to free contraception regardless of where she works or whom she works for (Mitchell, 2/24).

In related news -

McClatchy: 7 Female Missouri House Members Say They Were Kept Out Of Contraception Debate
It was a purely symbolic move when the Missouri House passed a resolution this week decrying the Obama administration’s mandate that health insurance policies include birth-control coverage. But it still managed to spark outrage from a group of seven female Democratic lawmakers, who said they were denied a chance to speak on an issue that affects them. "These women stood and waited to be recognized for two hours," said Rep. Tishaura Jones, a St. Louis Democrat (Hancock, 2/24).

St. Louis Beacon: 'Mad Men' vs. Angry Women? 'Culture war' Reruns In Contraception Debate
No matter how you view the hot debate over the Obama administration's new rule on contraceptives coverage — and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt's "Rights of Conscience" amendment that would block it — many hear echoes of the "culture wars" of previous decades over issues like birth control. Today the Missouri House approved by a vote of 114-45 its own resolution opposing the new contraception rule; it was denounced by women in the Democratic minority as affecting access to contraceptives. ... Blunt has remained typically low key in appearances across Missouri during the Senate's recess this week (Koenig, 2/22). 

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