Judge Temporarily Blocks Biden HHS Removal of Natural Family Planning from Insurance Coverage

On August 12, Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Nurse Practitioner Dr. Cami Jo Tice-Harouff won a temporary victory in court against the Biden administration, which quietly tried to remove coverage for fertility awareness-based family planning (FABM) methods from health insurance plans last December without going through the appropriate channels.

In November 2021, HHS released a draft proposed changes to which contraceptives should be covered. They said the change they were looking to make was to add condoms to the contraceptive methods covered. However, something was omitted that had been there before: the FABM cover. Several FABM organizations have submitted comments on this omission, making it clear that they object to it. None of these comments have been published or addressed. The changes came into effect in December 2021.

When Tice-Harouff realized that her services were no longer covered by her patients’ insurance, she took action. In March, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a complaint ohon its behalf against HHS, finding that HHS failed to follow regulatory review protocols. According to Administrative Procedures Actdraft proposed revisions to the regulations must be made public for 30 days to allow for public comment and objection. The problem, as declared by the ADFwas that there was no “notice and comment or justification process, which is mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act”.

LILY: Women don’t have to be afraid to use natural fertility awareness methods for family planning

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle of the Eastern District of Texas granted the temporary injunction, order that the revision removing FABM coverage cannot be implemented until a final decision is made or the proper procedures are followed. If HHS decides to submit a draft of the proposed changes in accordance with the proper procedures and the changes are approved, they will become effective in December 2022.

Family planning methods based on fertility awareness, such as the Creighton Method and the Marquette Method, are natural methods of tracking a woman’s reproductive cycle. They allow couples to achieve or avoid pregnancy without using artificial methods like contraception or IVF. In 2016the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made counseling for FABM methods a covered service under the Affordable Care Act.

To be used effectively, these methods must be learned from a licensed professional and require follow-up visits, hence the need for insurance coverage. Following the 2016 revision of the Affordable Care Act, practitioners could bill their patients’ insurance for these visits. Each counseling session can cost $300 to $450 and usually several are needed during the first six months of using a FABM.

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