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AMERICAN COUNCIL OF LIFE INS. v. DISTRICT OF COLUM

September 19, 1986

AMERICAN COUNCIL OF LIFE INSURANCE, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOGAN

 American Council of Life Insurance (ACLI) filed this suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the "Prohibition of Discrimination in the Provision of Insurance Act of 1986" enacted by the District of Columbia Council is unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment and violates the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, D.C. Code §§ 1-204 and 1-233(a)(3) (1981). Plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment and for a preliminary injunction. Defendants have moved to dismiss this action or in the alternative for summary judgment.

 Upon consideration of the oral arguments and the numerous memoranda filed in this action, the Court finds the statute constitutional and shall grant summary judgment for the defendants.

 Background

 The "Prohibition of Discrimination in the Provision of Insurance Act of 1986" (hereinafter "the Act" or "D.C. Act") prohibits health, life and disability insurers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of any test screening for AIDS, ARC, or HTLV-III infection and from denying benefits because the individual develops AIDS, ARC or HTLV-III infection. D.C. Act 6-170. Under the Act "an insurer may not deny, cancel, or refuse to renew insurance coverage, or alter benefits covered or expenses reimbursable, because an individual has tested positive on any test to screen for the presence of any probable causative agent of AIDS, ARC, or the HTLV-III infection . . . [nor] because an individual has declined to take such a test." D.C. Act 6-170, § 4. Insurers, however, may exclude from coverage applicants diagnosed as having AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). D.C. Act 6-170, § 6.

 The Act imposes a five year moratorium on the use of AIDS screening tests for the purposes of adjusting rates, premiums, dues or assessments. Five years from the date of the Act, insurance companies may seek permission from the Superintendent of Insurance to increase premiums and rates for individuals who test positive for exposure to the probable causative agent of AIDS. D.C. Act 6-170, § 5(b)(1). Before permission is granted, the District of Columbia Commissioner of Public Health must first determine that the test the insurance company proposes to use is reliable and accurate. D.C. Act 6-170, § 5(b)(2).

 A report by the D.C. Council states the premises on which the bill was based:

 
First, there is as yet no test of proven reliability and accuracy for identifying exposure to the probable causative agent of AIDS. And,
 
Second, assuming that a reliable and accurate test will be developed at some point, there is no body of evidence to show its value as a predictor of who will or will not develop AIDS . . . .

 D.C. Council Rpt. at 2 (April 22, 1986). During consideration of this Act the D.C. Council heard from thirty witnesses representing the insurance industry, medical profession and gay community on the advisability and fallibility of passing this law. Def. S.J. Motion Exhs. 1-7.

 Insurance companies, for example, presented evidence on the reliability of the AIDS screening tests and predicted that large increases in individual premiums would result if the bill were passed. Def. S.J. Motion Exh. 2. Doctors expressed concern that without the protection of the Act many individuals in the at-risk category would avoid AIDS tests and not seek counseling, both of which are crucial to the AIDS Public Health Program. Def. S.J. Exh. 2.

 The Act provides for criminal penalties and civil private causes of action. D.C. Act 6-170 § 9. The Congressional veto period ended without reversal by Congress and the Act became effective on August 7, 1986.

 Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues of material fact, such that movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The Supreme Court recently clarified ...


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