Attorney General Josh Shapiro Wins Nationwide Injunction Protecting Women’s Access to Contraception

January 14, 2019 | Topic: Rights

U.S. District Court Judge Rules in Favor of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Blocking Trump Administration’s Proposal to Gut Contraceptive Coverage

Harrisburg — Following a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, joined by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, a U.S. District Court Judge today issued a nationwide injunction blocking President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Administration from implementing new religious and moral exemption rules that would allow virtually any company to deny women health insurance coverage for no-cost contraception.

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General lawyers argued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that final rules issued by the Trump Administration violate federal law, which requires insurance companies to cover preventive health care services, including contraception, with no co-pay. The administration’s illegal action and rules mean that 2.5 million Pennsylvania women and their families would have to pay more for basic, medically-necessary health care.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the health and economic independence of women in Pennsylvania and across America,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Women need contraception for their health because contraception is medicine, pure and simple. Families rely on the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee to afford care; before the ACA, families spent thousands of dollars in co-pays. Congress hasn’t changed that law, and the President can’t simply ignore it with an illegal rule. I will not allow the federal government – under the direction of the Trump Administration – to undermine the rights of women and violate the rule of law.”

Almost 13 months ago, Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit to challenge the interim version of these exemption rules and won a nationwide injunction. That decision stopped the Trump Administration’s interim rules from undermining the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide their employees with contraceptive coverage, and that injunction has remained in effect.  However, the interim rules are no longer applicable because the final rules were set to go into effect today. Today’s ruling prevents those final rules from being implemented.

Federal government estimates for the number of American women who would have been be immediately impacted by the final rules are more than double that which were potentially impacted by the interim rules. Government estimates do not account for women who will be entering the workforce in the future.

The ACA generally requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to cover preventative care and screenings for women. These preventative services include all contraceptive methods approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which must be covered without any cost sharing (such as copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles).  Through its new rules, the Trump Administration is inviting employers to avoid these requirements by asserting religious or moral objections to cover contraceptive services.  The Administration’s rules significantly expand the exemption previously recognized for religious employers and organizations.

As a result of the ACA, more than 55 million women in the United States – including 2.5 million Pennsylvania women and families – have access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs.

“This is a victory for millions of American and Pennsylvania women and their right to health coverage and contraceptive care under the Affordable Care Act,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “We will continue to fight for the rights of women in our Commonwealth and across the country.”

To read the full opinion, click here.

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