State AGs to continue with health care contraception challenge

[JURIST] Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning [official website], joined by attorneys general from six other states will continue their lawsuit [complaint, PDF] challenging new health care mandates in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] that require contraception to be covered under all employer healthcare plans, including those of religious institutions. The seven attorneys general filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] last month seeking to block the contraception mandate of the PPACA. The complaint alleges that the contraception mandate violates the First Amendment [text] rights of religious institutions because it compels them to provide a service that is in violation of their religious beliefs. A spokeswoman for Bruning told reporters this week that despite the Supreme Court [official website] ruling [JURIST report] upholding the PPACA last month, they will continue to pursue this separate First Amendment case which only challenges the contraception provision of the Act.

There have been numerous challenges [JURIST timeline] to the constitutionality of various provisions of the PPACA. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 [opinion, PDF] that Act does not violate the constitution. The case centered on the "individual mandate" provision [text] of the act, which requires every person, with some exceptions for religious and other reasons, to purchase some form of health insurance by January 1, 2014, or be subject to a fee equal to either a percent of that individual's income or flat rate of $695. In his opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts held that individual mandate is not a requirement that Americans buy insurance, since individuals who choose to pay the flat-rate fee are in full compliance with the law. The court's decision resolved four consolidated cases accepted by the court [JURIST report] in November 2011. Following the court's decision in the case, reactions from law makers and parties of interest inundated press coverage [JURIST report]. US President Barack Obama, who has made the PPACA a cornerstone of his administration, held a press conference praising the decision. Several of the losing parties, 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) [advocacy website], expressed their unhappiness with the decision. NFIB suggested [press release] that "Americans have lost the right to be left alone" and that they will continue to back the law's potential repeal in Congress. Indeed, several lawmakers vowed to repeal PPACA, including Speaker of the House John Boehner [press release].

 

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