Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Affordable Care Act Pre-Empts State Law Giving Opt Out From Contraceptive Coverage

In Missouri Insurance Coalition v. Huff, (ED MO, March 14, 2013), a Missouri federal district court issued a declaratory judgment finding invalid provisions of Missouri law that permit an opt-out on moral or religious grounds from the federal Affordable Care Act mandate, as well as the state mandate, that health insurance policies cover contraceptive services.  The court concluded that Missouri Revised Statutes § 376.1199, subdivisions 4, 5, and 6(1), (2) and (3) are pre-empted by the federal Affordable Care Act. Those sections provide in part:
Any health benefit plan ... shall provide clear and conspicuous written notice ... : (1) Whether coverage for contraceptives is or is not included; (2) That an enrollee ... has the right to exclude coverage for contraceptives if such coverage is contrary to his or her moral, ethical or religious beliefs; (3) That an enrollee who is a member of a group health benefit plan without coverage for contraceptives has the right to purchase coverage for contraceptives....
The court said:
Here, the federal law and regulations, with limited exceptions, provide that insurers must provide contraceptive coverage, without cost-sharing by an insured. The State law says that insurers cannot provide contraceptive coverage to any person or entity that objects to such coverage based on any moral, ethical, or religious objection. The Court is hard-pressed to see how this does not create a direct conflict for Missouri health insurers.
The court had previously issued a temporary restraining order in the case. AP reports on last week's decision.