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Wieland v. United States Department of Health and Human Services

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 20, 2015

Paul Joseph Wieland; Teresa Jane Wieland, Plaintiffs - Appellants
v.
United States Department of Health and Human Services; Sylvia Mathews Burwell, in her official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services; United States Department of the Treasury; Jacob J. Lew, in his official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury; United States Department of Labor; Thomas E. Perez, in his official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of Labor [1], Defendants - Appellees

Submitted September 8, 2014

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For Paul Joseph Wieland, Teresa Jane Wieland, Plaintiffs - Appellants: J. Matthew Belz, Timothy Belz, Ottsen & Leggat, Saint Louis, MO; Peter C. Breen, Thomas J. Brejcha, Chicago, IL; Kevin Edward White, Kevin Edward White & Associates, Chicago, IL.

For United States Department of Health and Human Services, United States Department of Treasury, Jacob J. Lew, in his official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury, United States Department of Labor, Thomas E. Perez, in his official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Labor, Defendants - Appellees: Michelle R. Bennett, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC; Alisa Beth Klein, Mark B. Stern, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate Staff, Washington, DC.

For Sylvia Mathews Burwell, in her official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Defendant - Appellee: Alisa Beth Klein, Mark B. Stern, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate Staff, Washington, DC.

Before WOLLMAN, LOKEN, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

Paul and Teresa Wieland appeal from an order of the district court dismissing their complaint against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor and their respective Secretaries (collectively, HHS). The Wielands argue that the district court erred in concluding that they lacked standing to challenge certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the ACA) and its implementing regulations, which they allege require them to obtain, and provide to their daughters, healthcare coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients (collectively, contraceptives) in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs. We reverse and remand.

Paul Wieland is a member of the Missouri House of Representatives and obtains healthcare coverage for himself and his family through the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan (MCHCP), a group healthcare plan made available to him by his employer, the State of Missouri. Prior to August 1, 2013, MCHCP offered Paul Wieland an opportunity to opt out of coverage for contraceptives under state law. But the State and MCHCP discontinued offering the opportunity to opt out of such coverage following the decision in Missouri Insurance Coalition v. Huff, 947 F.Supp.2d 1014, 1020 (E.D. Mo. 2013). In Huff, health insurers and insurance-industry groups sought a declaratory judgment that certain provisions of section 376.1199 of the Missouri Revised Statutes were preempted by the ACA. As relevant here, section 376.1199 required that health insurers offering plans in Missouri offer an employer a healthcare plan that excluded coverage for contraceptives if such coverage was contrary to the employer's religious beliefs. Huff, 947 F.Supp.2d at 1017. An individual enrollee in a healthcare plan covering contraceptives was also permitted to opt out of that coverage based on his religious beliefs. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 376.1199.4. The district court in Huff held that these provisions of section 376.1199 were preempted by the ACA under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The State of Missouri did not appeal the Huff decision, and on August 1, 2013, MCHCP placed the Wielands in a healthcare plan that included coverage for contraceptives.[2]

The Wielands, parents of three daughters, are committed to the health and well-being of their children and thus seek to ensure that their daughters have comprehensive healthcare coverage. As devout Roman Catholics, they believe that they cannot pay for or participate in a healthcare plan that includes coverage for contraceptives or provide such coverage to their daughters without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs.

The Wielands filed a complaint against HHS, generally contending that HHS's enforcement or threatened enforcement of certain provisions of the ACA caused MCHCP to place them in a healthcare plan that includes coverage for contraceptives, thereby forcing them to provide that coverage to their dependent daughters. The Wielands challenged provisions of the ACA and its implementing regulations that do not apply to individuals like themselves, but to " group health plan[s] and . . . health insurance issuer[s] offering group or individual health insurance coverage." 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4); 75 Fed.Reg. 41726, 41759 (noting application to group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage). They also challenged an interim final rule, which they defined in their complaint as " the Mandate," that " requires . . . all 'group health plan[s] and . . . health insurance issuer[s] offering group or individual health insurance coverage'" to provide coverage for contraceptives. 76 Fed.Reg. 46621; 45 C.F.R. § 147.130. The Wielands alleged that HHS's enforcement or threatened enforcement of " the Mandate" against them violated their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § § 2000bb to 2000bb-4; the Free Exercise, Free Speech, and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution; and the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706, by forcing them to provide their daughters with coverage for contraceptives.

The Wielands sought a declaration " that the Mandate and [HHS's] enforcement of the Mandate against these Plaintiffs" violates their rights and " an order prohibiting [HHS] from enforcing the Mandate against these Plaintiffs insofar as it forces them to provide, fund or participate in the provision of contraceptives." They also sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction " prohibiting [HHS] from requiring that the Plaintiffs' health benefit plan contain coverage for contraceptives." The Wielands claimed that if the requested relief were granted, the State and MCHCP would offer them a healthcare plan without coverage for contraceptives or an opportunity to opt out of such coverage.

HHS moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing. According to HHS, the Wielands lacked standing because they were challenging provisions of the ACA that did not apply to them and were seeking an injunction prohibiting HHS from enforcing the Mandate against MCHCP and, ultimately, the State of Missouri, neither of which was a party to the case. The district court agreed with HHS, and it concluded that even if it granted the Wielands the relief they sought, whether the Wielands would ultimately be offered a contraceptive-free healthcare plan was " linked with the independent discretionary actions of the State and MCHCP, neither of which [is a] part[y] to this action or before this Court." The court recognized that MCHCP had previously provided an opportunity to opt out of coverage for contraceptives, but that the provision under which that opt-out had been offered, section 376.1199, was invalidated in Huff--a decision that the State did not appeal. The court also rejected the Wielands' contention that if it were to enter the requested injunction, a different state statute, Missouri Revised Statutes section 191.724, would require the State and MCHCP to offer a contraceptive-free healthcare plan.

Because the district court concluded that the Wielands had not met their burden to establish standing, it dismissed their complaint with prejudice and without reaching the merits. The court also concluded that the Wielands' failure to establish standing was fatal to their motion for declaratory and injunctive relief, and it denied that motion without further analysis. The Wielands filed a notice of appeal from the district court's order and also moved for a preliminary injunction ...


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