Since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in June 2012, there have been numerous lawsuits by religious organizations and religious employers as a result of objections to the so-called contraceptive mandate. ACA requires that most employers, including religious organizations, provide insurance without co-pays or deductibles to cover a range of contraceptives including birth control pills, the morning after pill, and sterilization.
Some legal experts predict that this controversy may well end up in the Supreme Court once again. This provision by itself, does not pose a threat to the Affordable Care Act, but certainly may result in modifications.
Last week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued several new rulings with regard to the “Contraceptive Mandate”. She noted in a recent news release that HHS will continue to work with faith-based organizations, women’s organizations, insurers, and others to achieve a resolution. The basis of the resolution seems to be a requirement that third-party administrators of self-insured organizations, and health plans to cover the cost of such services. This type of solution is not likely to resolve the controversy.
The basis for the lawsuits originates in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by Congress in 1993. This legislation basically prohibits the federal government from imposing a “substantial burden” on a person’s “exercise of religion”.
In the view of the writer, the religious controversy is only one of many elements of the affordable care act that may wind up with lawsuits and litigation in the next couple of years. Additionally, it is the opinion of the writer, religious organizations are correct in their opposition to the “contraceptive mandate” and this will likely be resolved favorably in the courts.
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