by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Published in ASRM Bulletin Volume 16, Number 35
On Friday, the Administration released a new accommodation for religious employers opposed to covering contraceptive prescriptions as required under the preventive health measures enacted as part of the 2010 health reform law PL 111-148, PL 111-152.
Under the new rule, which goes into effect upon its publication, religious schools, hospitals and other organizations with objections to the requirement can simply notify the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of their position. The prior rule required these employers to file a form with their insurance company expressing objection; the requirement to cover then became the obligation of the insurer. Some of these groups argued that registering their objections through a federal form was the same as authorizing birth control purchases. In July, the Supreme Court issued an order temporarily exempting Christian Wheaton College from filling out a form required as part of the accommodation if it notified HHS in writing about its objections.
Under the new rule, upon a religious employer’s notification, HHS and the Labor Department would contact insurance companies and plan administrators so that women covered by the health plans of the dissenting employers could get separate coverage for birth control with no cost to them or these groups. HHS is contemplating a similar accommodation for closely held for-profit companies that claim religious objections to birth control.
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