Mo. Attorney General Requests Clarification in Ruling on State Contraceptive Coverage Law

April 1, 2013 — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D) on Thursday asked a federal judge to clarify the scope of a federal ruling that struck down a state law (SB 749) allowing employers to refuse to offer health plans that cover contraception because of moral objections, the AP/KTTS reports (Wright, AP/KTTS, 3/29).

The law revised a 2001 Missouri statute that stated insurers "may" offer individuals and employers policies without contraceptive coverage if they request it. The new law said that insurers "shall" offer plans without the coverage. The new law also established grounds for the state attorney general and others to file lawsuits claiming religious infringement if entities that object are required to cover birth control.

A group representing health insurers sued over concerns about conflicts between the new law and federal rules requiring most health plans to cover contraceptive services at no additional cost to beneficiaries. In striking down the law, U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig noted that federal law takes precedence over contradictory state laws (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/22).

In a statement, Koster's office said the decision has created uncertainties for insurers and state residents.

The announcement came on the same day that state House Speaker Tim Jones (R) filed a resolution asking Koster to appeal the ruling (AP/KTTS, 3/29).