As devout Catholics, Barth and Abbie Bracy don’t want to pay for health insurance that covers elective abortion, but because they may have to purchase a plan under the Affordable Care Act they wouldn’t have a choice.
The Bracys filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Access Health CT, Connecticut’s insurance exchange.
In the lawsuit, the Bracys claim their previous insurance plan will be terminated because of the Affordable Care Act and they will be forced to purchase a plan on the exchange. In order to make the plan affordable the Bracys will need to avail themselves of the federal subsidies.
“However, in order to avail themselves of any of those subsidies and avoid the draconian penalties Defendants would impose, the Bracys must also pay a separate fee to be used solely to pay for elective abortions for others,” the lawsuit states.
“There is no opportunity to opt out from paying this fee if one’s plan includes elective abortion, nor is there any religious exemption from this requirement. Indeed, the Affordable Care Act forbids a private insurer from permitting an individual to opt out of the separate abortion fee or the inclusion of abortion coverage if such coverage is otherwise included in the plan.”
According to the lawsuit the Bracys investigated the cost of off-exchange insurance plans and discovered that “the cheapest available off-exchange plans available to him in Connecticut would be almost double his current premium.” The Bracys have four children and going without insurance coverage is “an untenable choice.”
At the moment all of the plans on the exchange cover therapeutic and elective abortions. Connecticut is not one of the 21 states that have restricted coverage for abortion in its plans and it does not yet offer a multi-state plan.
In the lawsuit, Mr. Bracy, who is the executive director of the Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee, claims he was unable to verify even at the point of enrollment whether elective abortions were covered under the plan he wanted to purchase on the exchange.
Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan disputed the allegation Monday in a statement.
“Every plan offered on the exchange is posted with Plan Design Documents,” Counihan said. “These documents identified that both therapeutic and elective abortions were covered. This information is available during the anonymous shopping experience to all consumers who visited our website and compared coverage plans.”
Counihan said the state is working to offer a multi-state plan in 2015.
“Access Health CT does not currently offer a multi-state plan, because the Office of Personnel Management of Federal Department of Labor did not submit the necessary paperwork in time to get a multi-state plan on the exchange for the 2014 open enrollment period,” Counihan said. “However, last year, Access Health CT promised to offer a multi-state plan on the exchange in 2015, and is currently working to make this happen for the open enrollment period which begins November 15, 2015.”
The Bracys are seeking declaratory relief that the government violated their religious freedom and an injunction. The Bracys current plan will expire in December 2014.
The lawsuit is similar to others filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom in other parts of the country.
The Bracys are represented locally by Michael DePrimo of Hamden.