Colorado joins multi-state lawsuit over federal rules restricting birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act
Mar. 14, 2019 (DENVER, Colo.) — Today, Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that the State of Colorado is joining a multistate lawsuit challenging two federal government rules that would significantly reduce women’s access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Michigan and Nevada joined Colorado in moving to intervene in the case, which is pending in federal district court in California. Thirteen other plaintiff states and the District of Colombia have already joined California in this case.
Specifically, the lawsuit challenged U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rules introduced in 2017 that expanded the exemption in the ACA as it pertains to contraceptive coverage beyond the scope of what was authorized by the Act.
Early this year, a federal court in California blocked the rule from taking effect in the states that sued. In January, a federal judge in Pennsylvania issued a nationwide injunction blocking the rules two days before they were set to go into effect. That decision is currently being appealed. By joining the California case, Colorado seeks to block the rules from applying to its residents regardless of whether the nationwide injunction is upheld on appeal.
Under the new HHS rules, Colorado will see rates of abortions and unwanted pregnancies increase after they dropped by more than half with increased family planning funding over the last decade. In 2017, an estimated 533,100 women in Colorado were eligible for publicly-funded family planning or had insurance coverage from their employer. But under the new HHS rules, some of these insured women will be forced to turn to the state’s already underfunded and endangered Title X program for family planning assistance or forgo coverage all together, risking an unintended pregnancy.
“We must ensure that our residents’ access to contraception is available and affordable. If implemented, this restriction to the ACA will deprive employees of coverage for birth control,” said Weiser. “Contraceptive services are an important form of women’s health care. I am committed to fighting for access to such services and defending the rule of law.”
The intervention is one of the latest legal challenges taking place between states and the HHS over family planning policy. Earlier this month, Colorado joined 21 other states in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a “Gag Rule” that bars providers at clinics that receive federal Title X funding from referring or discussing an abortion with a patient.
Lawrence Pacheco, Director of Communications
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