The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries recently brought suit against the state of Colorado to defend the rights of its member ministries and their members to exercise their religious liberty in the health care system. Health Care Sharing Ministries help facilitate the sharing of medical expenses among a community of religious believers. Colorado recently enacted a new statutory and regulatory regime that imposes severe burdens on health care sharing ministries and makes it a national outlier. The new regime requires health care sharing ministries to report those with whom they affiliate and associate, their communications to current and prospective members, and their operating, statistical, and financial information. These requirements are akin to subjecting a church to inquiry as to how it distributes from its collection basket for religious programs for its adherents. This is not the first time in recent memory that Colorado has infringed the First Amendment rights involving religious liberty. The Alliance is working tirelessly to prevent such infringements on the rights of the ministries.

Summary of Complaint

AHCSM brought suit on Thursday, May 16, to challenge Colorado’s new regime. The complaint marshals significant evidence that Colorado is selectively targeting health care sharing ministries because of their religious beliefs while leaving similar secular activities untouched. The complaint also marshals significant evidence that the Colorado regime will harm health care sharing ministries and their members, without sufficient justification. No other state has the same regime as Colorado.

Consequently, the complaint alleges that Colorado is violating the First Amendment in five different ways. First, it violates the Free Exercise rights of ministries to be free from laws that allow state officials to exempt their favored organizations. Second, it violates the Free Exercise rights of ministries to be free from laws that target religious exercise and that do not treat comparable secular activities similarly to religious activities. Third, it violates the Establishment Clause rights of ministries to be free from excessive entanglement and continuous monitoring by the government. Fourth, it violates the Freedom of Association rights of ministries not to disclose with whom they affiliate and associate. Finally, it violates the Free Speech rights of ministries with respect to their religious speech to their members and prospective members. The complaint seeks declaratory and equitable relief that would prevent Colorado from implementing its new regulatory regime.

Comment by Katy Talento, Executive Director of the Alliance

“No religious charity should have to choose between serving the state or serving the Kingdom of God. Our constitutional framework was set up to prevent this impossible position for religious Americans and their organizations.”

“Health Care Sharing Ministries have been faithfully serving religious Coloradans for generations. Hostility of Colorado officials against these religious charities is novel and it is impermissible under the First Amendment.”

“Demanding elaborate and burdensome data collection from Health Care Sharing Ministries is akin to state snooping in how a church distributes from its collection box and who its HVAC vendor is.”

“The Alliance has tried for years to work in good faith with the state to advocate for the rights of Health Care Sharing Ministries and their members. With the finalization of the regulation implementing this misguided law, it is become undeniably clear that the state is permanently committed to ignoring the constitutional flaws in its data collection regime.”


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