Silver State Hope Fund and ACLU Challenge Nevada’s Medicaid Coverage Ban for Abortion

Affiliate: ACLU of Nevada
August 29, 2023 5:00 pm

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LAS VEGAS — The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Nevada filed a legal challenge this week on behalf of Silver State Hope Fund in Clark County court challenging Nevada’s ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion, which creates sex-based discrimination for care in violation of the protections voters added to the Nevada Constitution.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year, Nevadans overwhelmingly adopted an Equal Rights Amendment to the state constitution, ensuring equality under the law regardless of race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and more. The lawsuit brought on behalf of Silver State Hope Fund — a Nevada nonprofit that offers financial assistance to help people pay for abortion, as well as travel, lodging, and childcare to ensure they can access care — challenges the state’s Medicaid coverage ban as a violation of Nevada’s Equal Rights Amendment. The majority of Silver State’s clients have incomes that qualify for Medicaid.

The mission of Nevada’s Medicaid program is to ensure equal access to health care by providing quality medical care for low-income individuals and families who otherwise may not be able to afford health care. Despite that mission, the program specifically denies coverage for abortion — and so the majority of Silver State Hope Fund’s clients cannot get full coverage for their reproductive health care needs. The abortion coverage ban reinforces sex-based inequalities by denying only those who can become pregnant the ability to make decisions about their health care options and reproductive futures. There are no similar restrictions on care typically accessed by men.

The lawsuit requests the state court order the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to remove the abortion coverage ban in Nevada’s Medicaid program.

Statement from Erin Bilbray-Kohn, vice president and acting executive director, Silver State Hope Fund:

“Nevadans sent a strong message last November that inequality and discrimination have no place in Nevada when we voted to add the Equal Rights Amendment to our state constitution, and now we need to fulfill that promise. For too long, women and people who need access to abortion have been denied coverage just because they get their insurance from the state’s Medicaid program. Nevada’s Medicaid policy has forced organizations like Silver State Hope Fund to step in where the state has failed to provide funding to pregnant Nevadans to cover abortion-related costs, but this shouldn’t be how the system works. Every human deserves dignified access to health care, including abortion care, regardless of their sex, gender, or income level.”

Statement from West Juhl, director of communications and campaigns, ACLU of Nevada:

“Seventeen states cover abortion through their Medicaid programs, helping to ease the burdens that people of color, low-income workers, young people, LGBTQ+ people, and those with disabilities face when they’re trying to get health care. People deserve to be able to live safe and healthy lives and to be free to chart their own paths, and it is time to say goodbye to Medicaid coverage bans rooted in sex-based discrimination.”

Statement from Rebecca Chan, staff attorney, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project:

“At a time in our nation's history when people in many states no longer have access to abortion after Roe v. Wade was overturned, it is even more important that states like Nevada protect abortion access and remove unnecessary barriers to abortion care. We are going to court to ensure that all Nevadans, regardless of their income, have access to abortion and to ensure that the promises of Nevada's ERA are fulfilled.”

The case — Silver State Hope Fund v. Department of Health and Human Services, Case No. A-23-876702-W — was brought by the ACLU and ACLU of Nevada on behalf of Silver State Hope Fund.

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