Saturday, July 05, 2014

Lawsuit Challenges Lack of Availability of Plans Without Abortion Coverage On Health Insurance Exchange

The Providence (RI) Journal reports today on a lawsuit with a new twist on free exercise objections to the Affordable Care Act.  Barth Bracy, director of the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee and a resident of Connecticut, along with his wife, filed suit two months ago because the only health care plans available through the Health Insurance Exchange in Connecticut include abortion coverage.  All enrollees must pay a small separate fee for that coverage.

The complaint (full text) in Bracy v. Sebelius, (D CT, filed 5/1/2014), alleges that if the Bracys purchase a plan through the Exchange, they will receive nearly a 100% subsidy for its cost.  But they can only obtain a plan that excludes abortion coverage by purchasing outside the Exchange and receive no subsidy.  The premium on such a plan would be nearly double the $494 per month premium they are now paying. They allege that this violates their rights protected by the Free Exercise Clause, RFRA and the Connecticut Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They also claim that their 1st Amendment right to receive information is infringed by regulations that prohibit insurers or exchanges from advertising whether plans cover abortions, from informing enrollees prior to the time of enrollment whether the plan covers abortion, and prohibits telling enrollees the portion of their total premium that is allocated to abortion coverage.