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State attorneys general attempt to block revised prescription contraceptive rule

State attorneys general attempt to block revised prescription contraceptive rule

LINCOLN, Neb.—Seven state attorneys general filed suit last week to block a final health care reform law rule that will require health insurers providing coverage to nonprofit affiliates of religious organizations to offer free coverage of prescription contraceptives.

That rule—issued by the Department of Health and Human Services this month—came in the wake of a political firestorm ignited by a previous requirement.

That rule, later withdrawn and replaced by the new rule, would have required the affiliates, such as health care systems and colleges and universities, to directly provide the coverage.

But the latest rule “represents an unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of religious organization employers,” according to the suit.

In addition, if employers stop providing health insurance coverage to avoid complying with the contraceptive mandate, there would be a “spike” in the number of lower-income employees seeking coverage in state Medicaid programs, according to the lawsuit.

Such an increase in Medicaid enrollment would threaten state “budgetary stability,” according to the suit.

The suit was filed by attorneys generals for the states of Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas in U.S. District Court in for the District of Nebraska in Lincoln.

The HHS rule, as it applies to affiliates of religious organizations, goes into effect for plan years beginning on or after Aug. 1, 2013. Other employers would have to comply a year sooner.

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