NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Attorney General Bob Ferguson steps up to defend access to reproductive health services

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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One Comment

  1. Thank you, Bob Ferguson! 

    # by Amy Kalamims :: February 25th, 2020 at 12:31 AM

One Ping

  1. […] Yes­ter­day, our Attor­ney Gen­er­al stepped up to the plate to go to bat for us by reveal­ing that he has stud­ied the deci­sion and believes it would not with­stand judi­cial scruti­ny. Fer­gu­son has an excel­lent record of going up against the Trump regime in the fed­er­al court…. […]

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