Hawaiʻi Attorney General Joins Brief to Maintain Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

April 1, 2019, 9:19 AM HST · Updated April 1, 9:19 AM
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Hawaiʻi Attorney General Clare E. Connors joined 22 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the US Court of Appeals last Monday. The attorneys general filed the brief to ask the court to maintain the current nationwide preliminary injunction on the Affordable Care Actʻs requirement that all employers must include birth coverage control in their health insurance plans. The brief aims to stop the Trump Administration from implementing new regulations that would roll back the requirement while litigation around the regulations is ongoing.  

The brief also supports the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in their efforts to fight the Trump Administration’s appeal of the nationwide injunction the states secured in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Jan. 14, the day the final rules were supposed to go into effect. The nationwide preliminary injunction stopped the federal government from implementing new regulations that would allow employers and universities to deny contraception coverage to employees, students, and dependents by citing a religious or moral objection.

Attorney General Connors said Hawaiʻi is committed to defending womenʻs access to affordable contraception services.

“By interfering with women’s access to contraception, the regulations will cause harm to women and their families,” Connors said.  

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Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, most employers who provide health insurance coverage for their employees have been required to include coverage for contraception at no cost.

According to Connorsʻ assistant, more than 55 million women in the US have access to a range of FDA-approved methods of birth control because of the ACA. Prior regulations allowed employees whose employers had religious objections to contraception to receive seamless alternative coverage for contraception, which is not provided under the new regulations’ expanded exemptions.

In the brief, the attorneys general argue that the new regulations threaten the health, wellbeing, and economic stability of hundreds of thousands of residents, as well as the economies of the states themselves. By rolling back access to contraception, the new regulations will force states to spend millions of dollars to provide their residents state-funded replacement contraceptive care and services, as well as healthcare associated with a rise in unintended pregnancies.

The attorneys general further argued that the District Court “acted well within its discretion in awarding” the nationwide preliminary injunction because the regulations threaten to harm thousands of women across the country. The brief notes that even the federal government admits that significantly more women and their families will be harmed than what the federal government previously estimated in October 2017.

“Access to contraception advances educational opportunity, workplace equality, and financial empowerment for women; improves the health of women and children; and reduces healthcare-related costs for individuals, families, and the States,” the state attorneys general wrote in the brief.

According to the brief, contraceptive equity laws that exist in some states may mitigate the harm caused by the new regulations in those states. However, these laws will not eliminate these damages because of the large percentage of women who work for employers that have self-funded plans that, by federal law, are exempt from state regulation.

More information is available by contacting Krishna F. Jayaram, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, at (808) 586-1284 or by email at [email protected].  

The amicus brief is available online.

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