Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks at a press conference announcing he's proposing legislation to abolish executions (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

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.)


Decid­ed Cases

  • 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.

Pend­ing Cases

  • 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.

Environmental Protection

Decid­ed Cases

  • 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.

Pend­ing Cases

  • 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.

Health/Consumer Protection

Decid­ed Cases

  • 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.

Pend­ing Cases

  • 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.

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