Dec 21 A federal judge on Friday blocked a new
Missouri law that requires health insurers to offer plans that
exclude contraception coverage if employers or individuals
object to birth control on moral or religious grounds.
U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig granted a temporary
restraining order preventing the enforcement of the law, writing
that it appears to conflict with the new federal health care
Republican lawmakers in Missouri drafted the law in response
to President Barack Obama's policy of requiring insurers to
cover birth control for free as part of the new federal health
care law, even if they work for a church or other employer that
has a moral objection.
State lawmakers in September overrode a veto by Democratic
Governor Jay Nixon to enact the law.
The Missouri Insurance Coalition, a nonprofit whose members
include health insurers that do business in the state, asked the
judge to block the state law, arguing that it conflicts with
federal law and is therefore invalid.
Fleissig wrote that the coalition is likely to succeed on
that claim "given what appears to be an irreconcilable conflict"
between the federal and state laws.
At a hearing, the judge wrote, the Missouri Department of
Insurance "could offer no response to how there would not be a
direct conflict" between the federal and state laws if an
insurer offered a health insurance plan "that acquiesced to an
employer's decision not to offer contraceptive coverage."
She is expected to schedule a hearing on a preliminary
(Reporting By Corrie MacLaggan; editing by Todd Eastham)