Sister Loraine McGuire with Little Sisters of the Poor speaks to the media after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on March 23, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Joshua Roberts

Trump administration reversing Obamacare’s birth control mandate

WASHINGTON (USA Today)  True to its word, the Trump administration is moving to reverse Obamacare's requirement that most employers provide free coverage of birth control to their employees.

Health officials are drafting a regulation rolling back the so-called "contraceptive mandate" that their Democratic predecessors implemented after the Affordable Care Act's passage in 2010, and which became the subject of two Supreme Court battles in 2014 and 2016.

While not yet final, the regulation appears intended to let employers avoid providing birth control coverage if they object for any reason — an expansion of the original effort to exempt those with religious objections. As a result, abortion rights groups warn that up to 55 million women could lose free birth control coverage — something that saves them $1.4 billion annually.

"The birth-control coverage benefit in our nation's health care law was the single greatest advancement in reproductive health care in a generation," said Kaylie Hanson Long of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "It gave millions of women more control over their own lives by making birth control affordable and accessible, and it was fiscally responsible to boot."

But conservative groups that battled the Obama administration in court over the insurance coverage mandate heralded the emerging policy, which would be implemented even before public comments are solicited, rather than the other way around.

"At long last, the United States government has acknowledged that people can get contraceptives without forcing nuns to provide them," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "That is sensible, fair and in keeping with the president’s promise to the Little Sisters and other religious groups serving the poor."

The draft regulation, reported by The New York Times and later unveiled by Vox, was promised by Trump four weeks ago when he signed an executive order promoting free speech and religious liberty. The order stopped short of permitting broad exemptions that gay rights groups claimed would allow for widespread discrimination, instead targeting two areas: allowing churches to engage in political speech and addressing "conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate."

The original regulation was successfully challenged in 2014 by the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores and others, who won a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that said they could have the benefit delivered directly by their insurance plans.

Religious nonprofits, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, wanted to avoid even that degree of involvement. That led to a second high court case in 2016, which the justices attempted to settle with an unusual order directing the groups and the government to work out their differences in lower courts.

Once the final rule is implemented, women's groups say it will be up to the states — and possibly the courts — to protect insurance coverage for contraceptives.

“This rule would mean women across the country could be denied insurance coverage for birth control on a whim from their employer or university," said Dana Singiser of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "It makes a farce of the Trump administration’s so-called ‘women’s empowerment’ agenda and endangers a woman’s ability to make the most basic and personal of decisions — when and if to have a child."

Some states, including California, Illinois and Maryland, have enacted laws designed to protect women from losing their right to free birth control. Nevada's Legislature has passed a similar bill, and legislation has been introduced in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Oregon and Washington.

Comments

  1. “This rule would mean women across the country could be denied insurance coverage for birth control on a whim from their employer or university,” said Dana Singiser of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It makes a farce of the Trump administration’s so-called ‘women’s empowerment’ agenda and endangers a woman’s ability to make the most basic and personal of decisions — when and if to have a child.”
    “If you’re worried about how to pay for condoms, your local Planned Parenthood health center can help you get condoms and other birth control methods for free or low cost.” Planned Parenthood.org

  2. There is no rational argument against birth control or employer based health coverage paying for it. Insurers consider it a net positive for them and employers who are not busybody religious fanatics don’t get to lose workers to unplanned pregnancy.

    Insurance is not a privilege, it is compensation. Employers who can’t be bothered to even sign a form to let employees make their own choice for coverage, are scum. It is an unwarranted intrusion upon an employee’s personal life.

    This is not about religious freedom, it’s about exerting undue control of others. Trump is paying lip service to conservative with a regulation which will be dead on arrival.

  3. So you want employees of religious organizations to get abortions instead.

  4. You didn’t read my whole comment; did you?

  5. Except Red States and Republicans are doing their best to shut down PP because of abortion. They are cutting of their noses to spite their faces – greater access to birth control and condoms helps prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Lack of access to prenatal care will be expensive down the road. Utter stupidity!

  6. A gift of God! Man reached a point in knowledge as to control his ‘supernatural’ species growth! Its like creating penicillin or ac/refrigeration! An absolute fix to overpopulation anywhere! …and the Pharisaical law worshiping, jesus worshiping grunts demonize it!?!

    What starts as honest repentance ends in a life of zombie, cult ritual/routine!

    Its why Christ said, “God no longer dwells in temples made with men’s hands.” They become mind sacrificing cults.

    “…God is a spirit” …the spirit of compassion, correction, the innovation that lifts humanity, the spirit of me and you simply doing whats reasonable and right.

    Can you imagine pushing birth control all over the planet being holy and a gift from God !!? instead of demonizing it? HOLYSMOKES! Africa would be half fixed overnight!

    In this regard, the ‘church’ is a direct hindrance to God/knowledge/progress.

  7. Not at all. Someone has to respect Christ somewhere.

  8. Pope Francis had met with the Little Sisters of the Poor while in the U.S. in support of their lawsuit. The year before, the pope granted a private audience to Hobby Lobby’s Green family, asking them “how their Supreme Court fight against President Obama’s contraception mandate was progressing.”
    http://religionnews.com/2014/03/31/hobby-lobbys-green-family-meets-pope-francis/
    A statement from the Vatican press office said during the course of the “cordial” meeting between Pope Francis and Trump, they spoke of their “joint commitment in favour of life, religious liberty and freedom of conscience”.

  9. And it has worked exceedingly well – not.
    What works is obeying God’s word.

  10. No, we don’t.

    You want to do that, fine. But it’s nobody’s obligation.

  11. Why should a charity group take the burden for employers who lack a sense of respect for personal boundaries of their workers?

  12. Insurance is not compensation. Originally it was an incentive for a company to cast a wider hiring net. When I left the workforce, one still had to pay part of their pay check for the insurance, it wasn’t free.

    As far as intrusion goes, when the employee applies for a job, & benefits presented, they have the free choice of staying or going to another place. Seems there is more intrusion on the employer, with another “regulation” to have to follow.

  13. “Employers who can’t be bothered to even sign a form to let employees make their own choice for coverage, are scum.” – perfectly stated! If an employer doesn’t want to provide contraceptive coverage on the company plan for religious reasons, I don’t care. But to refuse to fill out a simple 2 page form because that ALSO violates your religious convictions is just wrong. Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption indeed.

  14. How about some respect for the owners of the companies for their personal boundaries.

    Sounds like you view “respect for personal boundaries” as a one way street.

  15. That is a ridiculous response. They don’t have one. It is a one way street because the power dynamic is a one way street. Employers have power which must be curbed here.

    A worker is not an employers chattel property. Their opinion should have no bearing on the private personal choices between an employee and their healthcare provider. Especially when the employer simply has to respect their employees and sign a form to let them out out of company insurance.

  16. Of course it is. It is a benefit provided in exchange for working for a certain amount of time and as part of the position. It is not a gift to employees. In many cases it is what keeps a worker at a job as much as the paycheck.

    Moreover if an employer doesn’t want to provide contraception, then they simply sign a form and let the workers get their own. It is not a legitimate expression of religious belief to compel others to comply with your faith. Workers have their own beliefs and rights which must be protected by law.

    “Seems there is more intrusion on the employer, with another “regulation” to have to follow.”

    You are wrong. It is simply a form to sign. All because an employer goes out of their way to depart from standard practices on their own accord. The employer creates the special situation so they have more hoops to jump through to get their way.

  17. “Insurers consider it a net positive for them”

    Which should be a big red flag. It’s not a good sign when a corporation is excited about something.

    Birth control is something everyone needs. Insurance is for emergencies. Which scenario makes more sense:

    Everyone pays for birth control.
    OR
    Insurance pays for everyone’s birth control, charges everyone more for their insurance by even more than the birth control costs, to cover administration and profit, and makes a profit off of covering birth control.

    Insurance is NOT for something that EVERYONE needs. Insurance is meant to be something to cover the costs of unforeseen emergencies. This is why we don’t have “food insurance” because paying a for-profit company to buy food for you would end up being more expensive than just buying your own food.

  18. Birth control pills are prescribed for several medical conditions. Due to hypothyroidism, I take birth control pills everyday (no week off) as a hormone supplement to eliminate monthly shifts in hormone levels. Without this pill my hypothyroidism is difficult to control–fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, body temperature regulation (freezing when it is 80 degrees). No employer should have the right to know what medications I am taking or about an illness unless I disclose. Insurance provides free birth control or it doesn’t, it is not a company’s business. Everyone deserves certain freedoms and privacy.

  19. Trump does not give a hoot about religious liberty or women’s health or women’s rights of conscience. He is only interested in using the “Christian” conservatives who were gullible and dumb enough to support him. He is actually a strong enemy of religious liberty and the constitutional principle of church-state separation that undergirds it. John F. Kennedy, whose birth centennial was May 29, was the very opposite of Trump in every way. Johnny, we miss you; Donnie,we’d like to miss you. — Edd Doerr

  20. The Vatican has never been a friend of women’s health or religious liberty or rights of conscience. Quite the reverse.

  21. Because some people have ethics?

  22. ” In many cases it is what keeps a worker at a job as much as the paycheck.”.

    That’s what I said.

    So you admit health insurance is a benefit, aside from wages.

    Thank you Spuddie, you have come out of the dark side.

    Besides, signing a form, admits to the acceptance of a policy, beyond a mere signature.

  23. As always, when you make sense, you make as lot of it.

  24. A benefit is not a gift. It is a form of compensation. You are not bringing anything relevant to the discussion on they point. An insurance policy provisions are governed by state regulation. Not employer fiat.

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