March 20 2018

Should companies have right to opt-out of birth control insurance mandate?

March 20 2018, 11:32 | Ann Lamb

Health care premiums for 2018 set to go up by as much as 50 percent

University of Arizona Center for Rural Health Navigators Maria Losoya gives people information and answers questions about health insurance in Tucson, Arizona U.S. REUTERS  Caitlin O'Hara

The rule approved Friday allows any employer, including colleges, universities and health insurance companies, to stop following the rule.

"No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenants of their faith", Trump said when he signed this order in the White House Rose Garden. "Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting and programming". The Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby, and after that case closely-held corporations could opt out of the mandate.

Government regulations that force people to make the choice between religious beliefs and work are "harmful not only to Catholics but to the common good", he said. But these outraged parties should remember that it wasn't the Right or the Trump administration that transformed contraception into a political issue.

The policy was largely shaped by former Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) legal counsel Matthew Bowman, now a lawyer with the Department of Health and Human Services, The Times said.

"'Sex' is ordinarily defined to mean biologically male or female", Sessions said.

The move comes after a summer of intense speculation that the Trump administration planned to curtail the mandate altogether.

The Trump administration's rule is likely to face its own legal challenges from groups that favor contraception.

"More than that, the Affordable Care Act helped countless women afford birth control who would not have been able to otherwise".

Trump's executive order directed the attorney general to "issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law" in order "to guide all agencies in complying with relevant federal law".

But many religious-affiliated organisations remained unhappy with this so-called "workaround" because it still used the insurance plans they sponsored as the way of providing coverage.

Previously, exemptions only applied to churches and houses of worship based on the convictions of their faith.

The new exemption for religious objections takes effect immediately, and it now includes nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit companies, even ones that are publicly traded. Instead, their insurers paid for the coverage.

The move extends to all commercial enterprises an exemption already given to religious institutions. Under the Justice Department guidelines, this could expand to allowing employers to hire in accordance with their religious beliefs and prohibit denying federal contracts to entities based on religious beliefs.

Gerald Harris, the Georgia-based editor of the Christian Index, took heart, saying the Trump administration was restoring "true religious freedom".

However, officials also downplayed the impact, arguing that the contraceptive rule remains in effect.

"There is no way to know how many women will be affected", Salganicoff said.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU said the interim rules violate the establishment clause regarding religion in the First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment in the Constitution "by authorizing and promoting religiously motivated and other discrimination against women seeking reproductive health care".

In a statement, the Administration said that it wants to protect the "conscience rights of all Americans".

The percentage of privately insured women who paid out-of-pocket for contraception subsequently dropped from 20% to 4%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control", Richards added.

Women's rights organisations and some medical professionals have suggested that the rule change could lead to a higher number of unintended pregnancies.

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