HHS was blocked from removing natural family planning health coverage

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building is pictured August 16, 2006 in Washington, DC The HHS Building, also known as the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, is located at the foot of Capitol Hill and bears the name of Humphrey, who served as a United States Senator from Minnesota and Vice President of the United States. |

A judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration from removing an Obamacare rule that required coverage for natural family planning counseling, allegedly without going through the proper administrative process.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle of the Eastern District of Texas Published a memorandum of opinion and order last Friday in the case Tice-Harouff v. Johnson.

The case is at issue in a decision by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration last December to drop regulatory language requiring natural family planning coverage.

Kernodle granted the plaintiff, family nurse practitioner Dr. Cami Jo Tice-Harouff, a preliminary injunction against the rule change, arguing that she had “sufficient quality alleged”.

Cami Jo Tice-Harouff
Dr. Cami Jo Tice-Harouff, provider of methods based on natural family planning (NFP) and fertility awareness, was interviewed by the St. Philip Institute in 2021. |

The judge found Tice-Harouff’s assertion that removing the coverage requirement violated the Administrative Procedure Act and that she would be “irreparably harmed by the change” to be correct.

“The defendants argue that the removal of the [Fertility awareness-based methods counseling] The sentence did not remove the requirement to provide free coverage for FABM advice – and therefore the notice and comment requirement did not apply, and the removal was not arbitrary and capricious,” wrote Kernodle.

“This argument is specious. When language is removed from a statute or rule, the courts presume that the omission has changed the meaning of the text.”

The Health Resources and Services Administration added the natural family planning coverage requirement to the Affordable Care Act guidelines in 2016. Fertility awareness methods serve as an alternative form of family planning for those who have medical, moral or religious reasons why they do not. wish to use contraception.

“Birth control, for example, sometimes creates harmful side effects, such as blood clots, weight gain, or increased anxiety and depression in some women,” the lawsuit states. “This makes family planning methods based on fertility awareness the only option for some women without seriously jeopardizing their health.”

Kernodle concluded that Tice-Harouff was “likely to succeed on the merits of the second claim, which alleges that the defendants’ adoption of the 2021 Guidelines was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of power.”

“Here, the only explanation identified by the defendants for the 2021 guidelines is the January 2022 notice in which HRSA provided a summary and a hyperlink to view the full guidelines on its website,” he said. for follow-up.

“This notice, however, did not even mention the FABM board. It therefore did not acknowledge a change in coverage, a reason for the change, an acknowledgment of the reliance interests in the 2016 guidelines, or an explanation of the reason. why the complete elimination of cover for the FABM board was preferable to a more phased approach.”

Julie Marie Blake of legal defense organization Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Tice-Harouff, voiced her support for the preliminary injunction in A declaration Monday.

“Countless women rely on the expertise of medical professionals like Dr. Tice-Harouff to help them raise their families in a way that meets their needs,” Blake said.

“We are delighted that the court has allowed insurance coverage to continue for the many women who choose fertility-focused family planning and has prevented the Biden administration from imposing its own preferred contraceptive methods on all women without even allow the public to weigh in on that decision.”

Also called fertility awareness, natural family planning involves women avoiding pregnancy by monitoring fertility signals during their menstrual cycles to determine when they are most likely to become pregnant.

According to the UK’s National Health Service, natural family planning can be “up to 99% effective” unless “instructions are not followed carefully”.

“You should keep a daily log of your fertility signals, such as your temperature and fluids coming from your cervix – it takes 3-6 menstrual (monthly) cycles to learn the method,” said the NHS.

“If you want to have sex during the time when you could get pregnant, you will need to use contraception, such as a condom, diaphragm or cap.”

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