Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Vermont Joins Effort to Protect Access to Birth Control

December 20, 2018

Filings of 14 Attorneys General Aim to Halt Final Rules Limiting Birth Control Access under ACA

Attorney General T.J. Donovan joined a coalition of attorneys general seeking to block federal rules that would deny millions of women access to cost-free birth control. The final rules, which are set to go into effect on January 14, 2019, would jeopardize the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide coverage of all 18 FDA-approved birth control methods and counseling for employees and their covered dependents with no out-of-pocket costs. To date, 62 million women across the country and almost 26,000 women in Vermont have benefited from these reproductive health services.

“Women have the right to make their own healthcare decisions,” said Attorney General Donovan. “No employer or bureaucrat should be able to decide for them. This would jeopardize thousands of Vermont family’s ability to access contraceptive healthcare.”

The coalition of attorneys general filed an amended complaint and a motion for preliminary injunction in federal court in State of California, et al v. Alex Azar, II, et al, which is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. This action builds on the multistate coalition’s successful opposition to the interim final rules. On December 21, 2017, the attorneys general secured a nationwide preliminary injunction halting the implementation of the interim final rules. On December 13, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling.

A Vermont law passed in 2016 also requires health insurance plans to provide free contraceptive coverage. However, under a federal law known as ERISA, some large employers whose health insurance plans cover employees in multiple states are not required to follow state law coverage requirements. Under the Trump Administration’s new rule, people covered under these ERISA plans would be at risk of losing free contraceptive coverage.

California led the coalition of attorneys general. In filing the amended complaint and motion for preliminary injunction, Attorney General Donovan is joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Last modified: December 20, 2018