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Paul, Weiss Files Amicus Brief in Opposition to Expanded Exemptions to the Birth Control Benefit

Paul, Weiss filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Health Law Program and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association in support of a challenge to interim final rules promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would allow nearly all employers to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraception if the employer has a religious or moral objection. The amicus, filed in the Ninth Circuit, challenges the rules on grounds that they would significantly undermine the no-cost contraceptive coverage benefits provided under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In October 2017, HHS announced the interim rules, which—without notice and comment and with immediate effect—would allow an employer to decline to provide contraceptive coverage if the employer objects to the contraceptive coverage on the basis of either “sincerely held religious beliefs” or “sincerely held moral convictions.” California, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia challenged the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act and won a preliminary injunction in the Northern District of California. HHS has now appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit.

Paul, Weiss’s brief focused on HHS’s claim that women who are no longer able to obtain contraceptive coverage through their employer’s health insurance plans could still obtain this coverage through federal safety net programs such as Medicaid and Title X. The brief explains that these programs are intended to serve only a limited population of individuals with low incomes. In addition, the brief notes, these programs are already underfunded and face threats of future cuts, particularly given recent proposed regulations aimed at moving resources away from dedicated reproductive health centers, such as those run by Planned Parenthood.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partner Allan Arffa and associates Crystal Johnson, Elizabeth Grossman and Melina Meneguin Layerenza.

June 1, 2018

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