Women’s Law Group Files ACA-Based Complaints About Dependent Pregnancy Coverage

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has filed complaints based on a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148) against five institutions that do not provide maternity coverage for female dependents of participants in the institutions’ health plans. The complaints were filed with the HHS Office for Civil Rights. According to the complaints, “creating a special exclusion to the plan’s pregnancy coverage denies these female beneficiaries the comprehensive coverage the plan offers to their male counterparts.”

PPACA Sec. 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in health programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance or are administered by an executive agency. Prohibited bases for discrimination and enforcement mechanisms are those provided under: title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975; and Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In a statement, the NWLC noted that “a growing number of young women are staying on their parents’ health care plans because [PPACA] requires plans that offer coverage to dependent children to extend that coverage up to age 26. Each year, there are an estimated 2.4 million pregnancies among women under age 25.”

The five institutions named in the complaints include Battelle Memorial Institute, a research and development organization based in Columbus, Ohio; Beacon Health System, located in South Bend, Indiana, and the parent organization of Elkhart General Hospital and Memorial Hospital of South Bend; Auburn University, a public university in Auburn, Alabama; Gonzaga University, a private university located in Spokane, Washington; and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. All receive federal financial assistance in one form or another.