DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is taking on the Affordable Care Act on multiple fronts; including defending what he said is a freedom of religion violation.
Strange said that if President Obama says people can keep their insurance if they like it, then the Eternal Word Television Network should be able to keep their company plan, which does not cover things like birth control.
EWTN broadcasts out of Irondale and is the largest Catholic-based media network in the country. The Affordable Care Act says birth control pills and sterilization procedures must be available to everyone through insurance. Churches and other religious organizations were allowed exemptions from this rule, but EWTN was not.
If EWTN does not comply by July, it will have to pay tens of millions of dollars in fines. They and the attorney general filed a lawsuit challenging that law.
"You have to be able to conduct your life consistent with your religious beliefs unless there's some extraordinary, compelling reason, which is very, very rare. In this case, people have gone out of their way. The President said if you like your policy, you can keep it. They have a policy they love that protects their religious liberty. Now they're being asked to give it up. I think that creates a constitutional problem," Strange said.
Win or lose, Strange said he believes the case will end up in the Supreme Court.
Strange was one of ten state attorneys general who sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking Congress to fix problems with the Affordable Care Act.
He said he wasn't sure if the group of AGs would consider filing an injunction in court to force changes to the act, but that all legal options are on the table.
The attorneys general believe the insurance exchanges created by the act allow dangerous access to consumers' personal information, and that it gives more favorable treatment to companies than individual citizens, citing that the law's provision forcing employers to buy insurance has been put on hold for a year.
"We know it's been a catastrophic rollout. We're really concerned, though, about the impact on people's right to privacy, on their jobs. It's just a terribly mishandled disaster, so we're hoping they're going to act – not just the administration, but Congress, too, to fix it," said Strange.
The letter also asks the administration to halt the health care law until all the website issues are fixed.