Birth control insurance challenge heard by US appeals court

Birth Control insurance
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A lawmaker in Missouri is opposed to the coverage and is now fighting it with the Hobby Lobby.

Missouri Rep. Paul Wieland (R-Imperial), and his wife, Teresa, are currently battling the regulation for birth control insurance in state sponsored health plans, and is hoping that the recent Hobby Lobby from the U.S. Supreme Court will provide him with what he needs to decrease the rejection of his legal challenge by the court to the mandate from the Affordable Care Act.

Arguments were heard early this week by the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

The case involved a lawsuit by Rep. Wieland and his wife against three federal agencies, one of which is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Timothy Belz, the lawyer representing Wieland, asked the panel of three judges to implement a reversal of the U.S District Court’s ruling from November 2013. He cited this summer’s Supreme Court decision, in which it was found that private companies, such as Hobby Lobby, which have objections of a religious nature, can choose not to offer the otherwise required birth control insurance under the federal health care reform.

This is the only case of a individuals seeking to exempt themselves from the birth control insurance coverage requirement.

Birth Control insuranceAccording to the assistant director of the civil division of the agency, Alisa Klein, who is also the lawyer for the Justice Department, this challenge by Wieland is the only one of its nature – as far as she is aware – in which an individual is trying to be exempt from the contraception health insurance requirement of the Affordable Care Act.

While there have been dozens of private employers that have sought such exemptions, this has not been the case among individuals and families. In July, the St. Louis Archdiocese was able to win a preliminary injunction within the same court where Rep Wieland had previously had his claim rejected.

Belz made a comparison between the birth control insurance coverage in the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan to forcing Mormon parents, who are forbidden by their religion to consume alcohol, to “stock unlocked liquor cabinets” so that their children would have access to it when their parents were not present in order to ensure that the bottles would remain untouched.

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