ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Consumers Challenge Trump Administration Rule That Threatens Insurance Coverage for Abortion

The rule imposes more than $1 billion in unnecessary costs in an effort to coerce insurance companies to stop offering coverage for abortion, affecting more than 3 million consumers.

Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Inc., and several consumers around the country filed a lawsuit today challenging the Trump administration’s new rule designed to make insurance companies stop offering coverage for abortion. They are represented by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., and Brown, Goldstein & Levy.

In December 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new rule that, if implemented, would force insurance companies that sell plans in the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces to send two separate bills to customers — one for the coverage of abortion care, and another for coverage of other health care. Insurers will also have to instruct their customers to pay the bills using two checks, two money orders, or two electronic transactions every month.

As the administration acknowledged in finalizing the rule, the extensive administrative burdens will lead to higher premiums for consumers and will cause some insurers to drop insurance coverage for abortion altogether. As the administration also acknowledged, confusion about these new requirements will lead some people to miss payments and risk losing their health insurance coverage entirely.

“If this rule takes effect, I face the terrifying risk of losing not only my insurance coverage for abortion, but my insurance coverage entirely, which would be devastating for me given my pre-existing condition,” said Rebecca, a resident of Washington, D.C. and plaintiff in the case. “That’s why I’m joining the ACLU and Planned Parenthood to fight back. It is cruel and unacceptable that the Trump administration is interfering in my health care and trying to interfere with how health insurance companies do business, just because they want to make it more difficult for me to access my right to abortion.”

“The Trump administration’s new insurance rule is another attack on abortion care, designed solely to push safe, legal abortion further out of reach,” said Meagan Burrows, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “And yet again, its actions will have the most devastating effect on already marginalized communities, including low-income people, people with limited English proficiency, and people with disabilities. Abortion is health care, and our government should be making it easier — not harder — for people to get the health care they need.”

More than 3 million consumers would be affected by the rule’s onerous restrictions, including the individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit from Maryland, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and Maine. The rule would also affect one-third of the individual market exchange plans nationwide, including every individual plan offered on the marketplaces in Maryland. A fact sheet on the impact of the rule can be found here.

“Abortion opponents are waging everything they’ve got as part of their massive war on our access to health care,” said Karen Nelson, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Inc. “The attacks and deceptions continue, but here’s the truth: Abortion care is health care, and it should not be separated, “carved out,” or treated differently from any other medical service. We will always fight to eliminate barriers and protect access to safe, legal abortion care and we will continue to provide people with the health care they need.”

“This rule exists for one reason: to make it more difficult for people to access safe, legal abortion,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The administration itself admits this rule has no quantifiable benefit — its sole purpose is to create extra red tape for millions of people across the country. We will not stand for this administration’s attempt to shame people and keep them from accessing health care. All people deserve to be able to access abortion in this country, and to have their health insurance cover this safe, legal medical procedure. Planned Parenthood Federation of America is proud to stand with Planned Parenthood of Maryland, the ACLU and these brave individual consumers to fight back against this harmful rule in court. We will never stop fighting for our patients, or for the right of all people to access sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, without shame or needless hurdles.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

View filed complaint here.

View fact sheet here.