Tuesday, July 21, 2015

8th Circuit: Parents Have Standing To Challenge ACA Contraceptive Coverage Requirement For Family Policy

Yesterday the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision that could be the precursor to a new round of challenges to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive coverage mandate. In Wieland v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (8th Cir., July 20, 2015), the court held that parents have standing to challenge provisions preventing them from obtaining insurance coverage for their daughters under a policy that excludes coverage for contraceptives.  Prior to the Affordable Care Act, Missouri law required that health insurers offer an employer a health care plan that excludes contraceptive coverage if coverage violates the employer’s religious beliefs. Also individual enrollees were permitted to opt out of contraceptive coverage based on religious objections. In a suit brought by insurance companies, a federal district court held that these provisions were pre-empted by the Affordable Care Act.

Plaintiffs in this suit are a Missouri legislator and his wife who receive family health coverage through the state of Missouri's health plan for its employees. According to the court:
The Wielands, parents of three daughters, are committed to the health and well being of their children and thus seek to ensure that their daughters have comprehensive healthcare coverage. As devout Roman Catholics, they believe that they cannot pay for or participate in a healthcare plan that includes coverage for contraceptives or provide such coverage to their daughters without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs.
National Law Journal reports on the decision.