US Supreme Court Allows Broader Religious Exemption to Birth Control Coverage

By Lawrence Hurley

July 09, 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday endorsed a plan by President Donald Trump's administration to give employers broad religious and moral exemptions from a federal mandate that health insurance they provide employees covers women's birth control.

The court ruled 7-2 against the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which challenged the legality of the administration's 2018 rule weakening the so-called contraceptive mandate of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, that has drawn the ire of Christian conservatives.

The mandate requires that employer-provided health insurance include coverage for birth control with no co-pays. Previously, many employer-provided insurance policies did not offer this coverage. Republicans have sought to repeal Obamacare, signed by Trump's Democratic predecessor Barack Obama in 2010.

Rules implemented under Obama exempted religious entities from the mandate and a further accommodation was created for religiously affiliated nonprofit employers, which some groups including the Little Sisters of the Poor objected to as not going far enough.

The Trump rule would allow any nonprofit or for-profit employer, including publicly traded companies, to seek an exemption on religious grounds. A moral objection can be made by nonprofits and companies that are not publicly traded. The Trump administration exemption also would be available for religiously affiliated universities that provide health insurance to students.

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