|RICHMOND (April 8, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Pennsylvania in its case defending contraceptive coverage and counseling mandated under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the brief filed in Donald Trump et al. v. Pennsylvania, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues explain that states have an interest in safeguarding the ACA’s birth control coverage requirement, which has benefited more than 62 million women across the country. The coalition argues that access to affordable birth control is critical to the health, well-being, and economic security of the states’ residents. If the Trump Administration is successful in rolling back contraceptive coverage at least 1.6 million women in Virginia will lose reproductive health services.“Millions of women in Virginia and around the country depend on the ACA to get access to critical reproductive health services and contraception,” said Attorney General Herring. “Employers have absolutely no business involving themselves in the decisions their female employees make about their reproductive health. During every stage of this and other lawsuits the courts have decided against the Trump Administration’s rollback of the contraception coverage rule and I hope that the Supreme Court will make the same decision.”
Attorney General Herring has been defending the ACA’s contraception coverage rule in court since 2017 when the Trump Administration announced their plans to rollback the birth control requirement. Most recently, last October, Attorney General Herring and a coalition of 15 state attorneys general defeated the Trump Administration’s second attempt to strip access to cost-free birth control coverage when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction that was currently in place.
Previously, in November 2017, Attorney General Herring and five other attorneys general filed a lawsuit in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to undermine the contraception coverage rule created under the ACA. In December 2017, Virginia and its partner states won a nationwide injunction blocking the Trump Administration’s efforts to rollback the contraception coverage rules. In December 2018, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the injunction, but only in the states that had sued over the policy change, which included Virginia, California, Delaware, Maryland and New York. In January 2019, Virginia and 14 partner states won a preliminary injunction blocking President Trump’s most recent efforts to rollback contraception coverage rules in their states.
In the amicus brief, the attorneys general argue that the states have a vested interest in providing women seamless contraceptive coverage. Tens of thousands of women will lose their cost-free contraceptive coverage if employers are allowed to exempt themselves from the ACA requirement. This loss of coverage will result in a reliance on state-funded programs that will increase the states’ costs associated with the provision of reproductive healthcare, and will likely lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies.
Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, most employers who provide health insurance coverage to their employees have been required to include coverage for contraception, at no cost to their employees. As a result of the ACA, more than 55 million women in the United States have access to a range of FDA-approved methods of birth control, including the longest-acting and most effective ones, with no out-of-pocket costs. The ACA also included an accommodation process by which employees whose employers had religious objections to contraception could nevertheless obtain seamless alternative coverage for contraception—seamless coverage that is not provided under the new regulations’ expanded exemptions.
For millions of women the contraception coverage rule has reduced their healthcare costs, helped address medical conditions, and allowed them to make their own decisions about when and if to have children. Before the contraception coverage rule, birth control accounted for 30-44% of a woman’s out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Because of the rule, 1.6 million women in Virginia have access to contraception without a co-pay, saving an average of $255 per year for oral pill contraceptives, and the percentage of women who have a co-pay for contraception has fallen from more than 20% to less than 4%.
Joining Attorney General Herring in filing today’s brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.