Lawsuit challenging contraception coverage dismissed

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to block the health reform law's contraception provision requiring employers and insurers to provide free birth control.

Nebraska filed the lawsuit on behalf of six other states--Texas, Ohio, Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Michigan--and three Catholic institutions. They claimed the contraception rule would effectively force religious organizations into dropping health insurance coverage, thereby driving up Medicaid enrollment and threatening state budgets, according to Reuters.

But U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom decided that argument was "based on layers of conjecture" and called the alleged harms too remote and hypothetical, the Associated Press reported.

What's more, Urbom said, the states didn't face immediate harm since the federal government has delayed enforcement of the contraception rule until next August to work out accommodations for particular religious groups, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

"The plaintiffs face no direct and immediate harm, and one can only speculate whether the plaintiffs will ever feel any effects from the rule when the temporary enforcement safe harbor terminates," Urbom said. "This case clearly involves 'contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all,' ... and therefore it is not ripe for review."

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who filed the lawsuit, said he will consult with the other states to determine their next steps.

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article
- check out the Reuters article
- see the Lincoln Journal Star article