Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has an impressive string of legal victories over the Trump regime, has now taken aim at a discriminatory new healthcare billing rule championed by anti-reproductive rights activists.
Last month, the Attorney General’s Office filed action in U.S. District Court for then Eastern District of Washington, challenging the regime’s plan to require that health insurance companies send out two separate bills each month — one for abortion coverage and one for all other coverages.
The rule would apply to 200,000 Washingtonians covered by qualified health plans on state-run health care exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Patient Protection Act or PPA for short). The lawsuit claims that the rule is illegal because Washington law requires sending only one bill, and the PPA does not allow the federal government to preempt state law.
Under the new rule, the separate “abortion bill” must be at least $1 per month (even for enrollees, like men, who will never receive abortion services).
To make matters worse, the rule also burdens enrollees by requiring separate payment of the two bills.
So what is the purpose of the rule? An insurer’s certificate of coverage must specify that abortion services are covered. But proponents of the new rule believe enrollees need a monthly bill reminding them of the abortion coverage, which they may morally oppose helping pay for through their premiums.
Insurers object to the administrative costs associated with the new rule. Ferguson fears that the separate billing and payment requirement will cause undue confusion. Some enrollees may believe the separate “abortion bill” is a scam and not pay it. Failure to timely pay premiums, he notes, may cause cancellation of coverage, something that actually happened to thirteen percent of enrollees in 2018.
So far, the Attorney General’s Office has filed twenty-one cases against the Trump regime, and joined in thirty-four other cases brought by other states. Remarkably, none of these cases have been lost. For progressives, these cases demonstrate that Trump’s policies are not only harmful but are often illegal or unconstitutional.
Here is an accounting of the resolved and pending cases either filed by, or joined, by the Attorney General’s Office during the Trump error. (A Democrat, Ferguson is seeking reelection to a third four-year term as Attorney General this year.)
- Ferguson won a court order striking down the U.S. travel ban against residents of twelve predominately Muslim countries.
- Ferguson won a court order striking down the Department of Commerce’s attempt to add citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
- Ferguson won a court order striking down attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), 17,000 of whom live in Washington. (That decision has been appealed by the U.S. Department of Justice.)
- Ferguson won a court order overturning a Department of Justice plan to withhold federal grants from jurisdictions that fail to enforce the Department’s immigration policies.
- Ferguson is challenging Trump surrogates’ destructive and inhumane policies permitting family separations at the Mexican border.
- Ferguson is challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s definition of who is a “public charge” under the law and subject to deportation. A preliminary injunction has been granted.
- Ferguson is challenging the diversion of $89 million in funds for the Bangor submarine base for funding of Trump’s useless border wall. A preliminary injunction has been granted.
- Ferguson is challenging the practice of arresting immigrants in and near Washington courthouses.
- Ferguson is challenging the removal of standards for the protection of persons apprehended at the U.S. border.
- Ferguson won a court decision striking down an attempt to a delay implementation of energy efficiency rules for ceiling fans.
- Ferguson won a court decision striking down an attempt to delay implementation of rules regulating methane emissions from new oil and gas facilities.
- Ferguson filed a legal challenge that resulted in the EPA (which is really functioning as the Environmental Destruction Agency nowadays) withdrawing an attempt to delay designating which areas of the country met the new ground-level ozone standards.
- Ferguson filed a legal challenge resulting in the FHA withdrawing attempt to delay implementation of requirements for states to measure emission of greenhouse gases emitted by vehicles on national highway and to set reduction targets.
- Ferguson won a court order striking down an EPA attempt to delay the deadline for designating which areas of the country failed to comply with Clean Air standards for ground-level ozone pollution.
- Ferguson filed a legal challenge that resulted in EPA withdrawing its attempt to delay implementation of limitations on new heavy-duty trucks that do not comply with modern emission standards.
- Ferguson won a court order striking down an attempt to delay implementation of the Chemical Disaster Rule under the Clean Air Act.
- Ferguson won a court order overruling the Trump regime’s decision not a publish a rule addressing the “bycatch” of endangered and threatened marine species by gillnet fisheries.
- Ferguson won a court order thwarting the regime’s delay in implementing new energy efficiency standards for certain household appliances.
- Ferguson won a court order overturning EPA’s decision to allow the continued use of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.
- Ferguson won a court order invalidating the United States Navy’s practice of scrapping the hulls of decommissioned vessels in a way the released contaminants into Sinclair Inlet.
- Ferguson won a court order requiring Department of Interior to update environmental reviews on coal-mining projects on federal land.
- Ferguson is challenging an EPA decision to revise Washington’s water quality standards.
- Ferguson is challenging the Navy’s approval of Growler take-offs and landings on Whidbey Island.
- Ferguson is challenging the EPA’s suspension of the “waters of the United States” which governs which waters qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act.
- Ferguson is challenging the EPA’s delay in rules regulating emissions from oil and gas facilities.
- Ferguson is challenging the EPA’s reversal of a rule prohibiting the use of hydrofluocarbons.
- Ferguson is suing to force the EPA to establish industry reporting standards for asbestos under the Toxic Substance Control Act.
- Ferguson has filed suit to overturn a decision to reduce automaker penalties to failure to meet fuel economy standards.
- Ferguson is contesting a decision to allow the continued use of neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.
- Ferguson is challenging a decision to reduce carbon dixode/air pollutant emission standards under the Clean Air Act.
- Ferguson has a case asserting right of states to set vehicles emission standards stricter than federal law.
- Ferguson is challenging rules weakening the Endangered Species Act.
- Ferguson is challenging rollback of energy efficiency standards.
- Ferguson won a court order striking down a Department of Education attempt to delay rules providing defenses to payment of student loans under certain circumstances.
- Ferguson won a court order enjoining a rule allowing restrictions on contraception coverage on employer self-funded insurance plans.
- Ferguson won a court order holding that Ajit Pai’s FCC may not preempt state and local regulation of broadband internet services.
- Ferguson won a court order striking down the Trump regime’s “conscience rule” allowing health care providers to refuse care for religious or moral reasons, even when the patient’s life is at risk.
- Ferguson was challenging a decision to unilaterally terminate cost-sharing reduction subsidies offered by states to reduce healthcare costs for low income Americans. The Trump regime withdrew its decision.
- Ferguson is challenging the regime’s “gag” rule prohibiting Title X healthcare providers from referring patients to abortion providers.
- Ferguson is challenging a decision to withdraw proposed rules establishing minimum standards for train crew training.
- Ferguson is challenging HHS’s re-interpretation of statutes governing Medicaid to disrupt existing collective-bargaining relationships.
- Ferguson is challenging the Department of Education’s delay in implementing the “gainful employment” rule which prevents colleges from offering worthless degrees that saddle students with high levels of debt.
- Ferguson is challenging new arms export rules on grounds that they fail to meaningfully regulate 3D-printed guns, which don’t have serial numbers and are impossible to detect with metal detectors.
Ferguson has repeatedly stated that he is very selective about the cases he chooses to bring against the Trump regime. Nevertheless, he has been very active in stepping up to oppose actions that would harm Americans’ access to healthcare and their right to breathe clean air, grow food in healthy soil, and drink clean water.