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Federal court halts Biden admin, allows fertility awareness family planning coverage

ADF attorneys represent Texas nurse practitioner in lawsuit
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TYLER, Texas – A federal court issued an order late Friday that blocks the Biden administration’s procedurally flawed attempt to eliminate health insurance coverage for fertility awareness-based methods of family planning from requirements that cover at least 58 million women. The court’s ruling means that fertility awareness-based family planning methods will continue to be covered by health insurance plans nationwide including for Texas nurse practitioner Dr. Cami Jo Tice-Harouff’s patients while her lawsuit proceeds.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Tice-Harouff in the suit against administration officials. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made the rule change in December 2021 without responding to any public objections or giving any explanation for the change.

“Countless women rely on the expertise of medical professionals like Dr. Tice-Harouff to help them raise families in a manner consistent with their needs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake. “We’re pleased the court allowed insurance coverage to continue for the many women who choose fertility-awareness family planning and stopped the Biden administration from imposing its own, preferred contraceptive methods on all women without even allowing the public to weigh in on that decision.”

“Dr. Tice-Harouff’s patients, however, will suffer irreparable harm when they lose the cost-free coverage for [fertility awareness-based methods] counseling provided by the current Guidelines. Many will undoubtedly forego this care altogether due to cost—or at least reduce the number or extent of counseling sessions,” the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, wrote in its opinion in Tice-Harouff v. Johnson. “Defendants likely violated the law in eliminating cost-free coverage for FABM counseling.”

Tice-Harouff, who is a licensed nurse practitioner in Tyler with a doctorate in nursing practice, is also licensed in several other states and provides patients with instruction in several different evidence-based fertility awareness methods of family planning. She assists many of her patients by billing their insurance providers and then donates the proceeds to a non-profit clinic that provides health care to the needy. The Affordable Care Act prevents insurance plans from imposing any cost-sharing requirements on women seeking “preventative care and screenings” as defined by a division of HHS.

In 2016, HHS included “instruction in fertility awareness-based methods” as part of this requirement. However, in December 2021, HHS removed that language from its list without using the notice-and-comment process or giving any rationale, both of which are mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act. HHS allowed only one, hand-picked outside organization to give input into the guidance.

  • Pronunciation guide: Tice-Harouff (TIE’-ss Hair-OFF')

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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