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Contraceptive Coverage Rules Draw Record Number of Comments; Mich. Business Files Latest Lawsuit

Contraceptive Coverage Rules Draw Record Number of Comments; Mich. Business Files Latest Lawsuit

March 26, 2013 — The federal contraceptive coverage rules have elicited more public comments than any other regulatory proposal from the federal government, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.

More than 147,000 people and organizations have commented on the rules, which require that most health plans provide contraceptive coverage at no additional cost to women. By comparison, about 4,600 people and groups have weighed in on a proposal that drew the second-most comments -- regulations governing the federal pre-existing condition insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148).

The disparity underscores "just how motivated foes and champions of the contraceptive provision are," the analysis said.

The analysis noted that many of the comments on the contraceptive coverage rules are from members of the Catholic Church, which has urged parishioners to express their disproval of the proposal. Women's groups also have mobilized around the issue, calling on advocates to support the policy as it progresses through the regulatory process (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/22).

Mich. Food Company Files for Emergency Relief from Contraceptive Coverage Rules

In related news, a Michigan-based organic foods company on Friday filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order preventing the federal government from enforcing the contraceptive coverage rules, CQ HealthBeat reports. The rules took effect on Jan. 1 for private companies with non-grandfathered insurance plans.

Michael Potter -- a Catholic and the sole shareholder of Eden Foods -- filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after a dispute with the company's insurance plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Potter has religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage and has excluded it from his workers' health plan in the past.

The lawsuit states that last fall, Potter renewed his health insurance policy without contraceptive coverage. This February, BCBS officials informed Potter that his plan could no longer exclude the coverage because it would violate the federal rules. Potter refused to sign a contract on a policy that included the coverage but later received a notice that it had been added, according to the suit (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 3/22).