President Donald Trump’s administration announced Friday that it will provide employers with religious or moral objections to providing birth control in their employee health insurance plans an exemption.
The administration’s exemption includes “any non-profit organization that have a religious or moral objection to providing contraception,” a senior Health and Human Services (HHS) official told reporters Friday. The new rule takes effect immediately. In addition to non-profits, the rule applies to “for-profit entities that are publicly traded,” colleges, universities and health insurance companies.
Starting in 2012, Obamacare required employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception at no cost to women. The rule did provide a caveat for churches and even tried to extend that to religiously-oriented groups. Religious groups rejected the offer and filed a number of lawsuits, which led to 2 Supreme Court cases. SCOTUS ordered that the Obama administration and religious organizations come to an agreement as to how to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost to women, but such an agreement never materialized.
Under the new rule, employers with objections to the Obamacare requirement no longer have to follow the mandate and are not required to report this change to the federal government, a senior HHS official told reporters. Employers simply have to notify employees that they will stop providing contraceptive coverage.
Trump signed an executive order in April that ordered a number of federal agencies, including HHS, to find a solution to employers with conscience-based objections to the Obamacare provision. A host of churches, non-profits and schools have come out against the measure since its inception, claiming it encroaches upon religious freedom.
Friday’s announcement will likely be a net-win for social conservatives and religious groups, but has the potential to land the administration in hot water with Democrats.
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