ST. LOUIS (CN) - A federal judge has tossed a Missouri law exempting moral objectors from health insurance reform, saying federal law pre-empts that of the state.
Missouri in September 2012 became the first state to pass a law that violated the Obama administration's contraception policy - which required employers to carry such coverage for employees - when the state's Republican-led Legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto.
Missouri's law required insurers to issue policies without contraceptive coverage if such coverage violated the employers moral, ethical or religious beliefs.
In her 12-page ruling on March 14, U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig said she was not taking a position on the merits of the Obamacare mandate.
"Here, the federal law and regulations, with limited exceptions, provide that
insurers must provide contraceptive coverage, without cost-sharing by an insured," Fleissig wrote. "The state law says that insurers cannot provide contraceptive coverage to any person or entity that objects to such coverage based on any moral, ethical, or religious objection. The court is hard-pressed to see how this does not create a direct conflict for Missouri health insurers. The court rejects defendant's argument that the state law does not conflict with the federal law because the state law provides more coverage for contraceptives. The state law does not provide more coverage-without-cost-sharing, the kind of coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act."
Fleissig in December issued a temporary restraining order against Missouri's law.
The law had been challenged by insurers who feared being caught in the middle of a federal versus state tug-of-war.
It is not clear whether Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster will appeal. Koster served in the Missouri Senate from 2005 to 2007 as a Republican, before switching to the Democratic Party.Follow @@joeharris_stl
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