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Colorado Firm Wins Ruling on Birth Control Insurance

A Colorado company won a judge’s ruling preventing the federal government from requiring it to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives as part of its employee-health plan.

U.S. District Judge John L. Kane in Denver temporarily blocked the requirement for Hercules Industries Inc., a family-owned maker of heating and ventilation equipment. The company challenged the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a constitutional violation of religious liberty.

Unlike other provisions of the law, the coverage mandate at issue doesn’t apply to certain health-care plans existing on March 23, 2010, when President Barack Obama signed the act into law, Kane said in his order. The preventive care coverage must begin on the start date of the first plan year following the effective date of the regulations -- Nov. 1, 2012.

“In light of the extensive planning involved in preparing and providing its employee insurance plan, and the uncertainty that this matter will be resolved before the coverage effective date,” Hercules Industries has “adequately established that they will suffer imminent irreparable harm” without the injunction, Kane said.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month upheld the core of the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying in a 5-4 ruling that Congress has the power to make Americans carry insurance or pay a penalty.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it’s disappointed by Kane’s ruling.

“It is unacceptable for employers -- especially for-profit companies -- to use their personal beliefs as an excuse to deny critical health coverage to the people who work for them,” said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, a lawyer for the ACLU in Washington, in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Hercules Industries v. Sebelius, 12-1123, U.S. District Court, District of Colorado (Denver).

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