Oct. 14 (UPI) — The attorneys general of more than a dozen states filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration this week to block two executive orders that reshape the U.S. healthcare industry.
The first order allowed private companies to opt out of providing free birth control to female employees if they have a religious or moral opposition. The second order allows health insurance companies to again sell cheaper, bare-bones plans to young people that do not meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage mandate.
In a separate decision this week, President Donald Trump announced he would halt payments to health insurance companies to reimburse them for out-of-pocket costs that low-income Americans cannot afford. Without the reimbursements, many health insurance companies would not be able to afford to provide plans to millions of Americans who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to pay for their healthcare out of pocket.
The administration said organizations’ religious rights are being violated by being required to provide birth control and that the cheaper plans would allow millions of Americans to gain access to coverage without the higher costs associated with so-called Obamacare health plans. Trump also said the reimbursements were only serving as a giveaway to already-profitable health insurance companies.
The states that are party to the lawsuit argue the birth control opt-out discriminates against women and is unnecessary because businesses with religious objections are not required to provide birth control themselves. Instead, women can bypass their employer and access birth control at no cost directly through their healthcare providers.
The states also argue that allowing insurance companies to sell the cheap plans will undermine existing government marketplaces created under the ACA. By enabling younger and healthier Americans to buy inexpensive plans outside the system, it would cause the cost of health insurance for older or sicker people to skyrocket, the lawsuit states. Also, ending the reimbursements will force people to buy one of the cheaper plans that do not provide the same level of care.
“In one week, the Trump Administration has re-opened the door to ‘junk’ health insurance plans and cut off access to contraception for millions of women,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat.
His office estimated the changes could increase healthcare premiums by an additional 15 to 20 percent.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a fellow Democrat, echoed the sentiment, promising states would fight to prevent the executive orders from going into effect.
“This is an effort to blow up the system,” Schneiderman said. “We’re not going to let him do it. We will be in court to defend these subsidies and fight this decision with everything we’ve got.”
In all, 18 states and the District of Columbia have signed onto the lawsuit.