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AG Seeks Clarity on Obamacare Exemption

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - Missouri's attorney general said he will not challenge a federal judge's ruling striking down a state law that violated Obamacare reforms, but asked the court to clarify certain religious exemptions.

At issue was a 2012 state law that excused employers from obeying the federal mandate to include birth control in employees' health-care coverage.

The law took effect in September after the Republican-led House and Senate overrode Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto.

The law required insurers to issue policies without contraception coverage if they claimed birth control violated the religious or moral beliefs of a person or employer. It was believed to be the first state law to directly challenge the mandate that employers cover birth control for women at no additional cost.

The Missouri Insurance Coalition, representing the insurance industry, challenged the law in Federal Court, claiming it put insurers in a no-win situation: Insurers could face federal penalties for violating Obama's mandate, but could face state penalties for violating the state law.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig found for the coalition, ruling that the state law conflicts with federal law and puts insurance companies in a no-win position.

"The Republicans' attempt to deny contraceptive coverage to women in Missouri is just plain foolishness," Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement. "The Republican effort to deny contraceptive coverage cannot be supported by case law or sound public policy."

While agreeing with Fleissig's ruling, Koster asked for clarification so that exemptions for groups such as the Archdiocese of St. Louis could remain in effect.

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