USA exempts more employers from covering birth control

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The mandate has been embroiled in lawsuits for the past several years.

The contraceptive coverage mandate had become a hotly contested legal battleground since Obamacare passed in 2009 - with the Democratic administration aggressively pushing back against attempts to carve out sweeping religious exemptions to the women's health provisions of the law. As we discussed in June, when drafting the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers did not specify what would constitute women's preventive care benefits; it was up to Obama administration officials to come up with the list, which ended up including things like contraception, domestic-abuse screenings, breastfeeding equipment, etc. The administration exempted houses of worship and unsuccessfully tried to make accommodations for religiously affiliated groups to allow their employees to still receive the coverage from a third party.

The church leaders also said the decision to provide the religious and moral exemption to the HHS mandate recognizes that faith-based and mission-driven organizations and those who run them "have deeply held religious and moral beliefs that the law must respect". This will expand the number of covered nonprofits and non-publicly traded for-profit businesses.

Some religious groups objected and sued. Real Alternatives lost a suit against the mandate at the 3rd Circuit Court in August, which ruled that its pro-life mission did not merit a religious exemption from the mandate.

The administration's justification for this measure include the health risks that may be associated with the use of certain contraceptives, even though it did not mention the dangers of an unwanted pregnancy or abortion that could result otherwise.

Over the past five months, religious freedom advocates have pressured the administration to provide formal relief rather than verbal assurances of it. Religious groups not directly affiliated with churches, required to file a 990 tax form due to their nonprofit status, did not meet the religious exemption.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday said it is filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Hobby Lobby's owners, the Green family, argued that providing coverage for drugs that could cause early abortions violated their Christian beliefs. But they failed to do so before the end of the Obama administration.

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The New York Times on Thursday night had reported on a leaked draft of the administration's new rules, which address an Affordable Care Act mandate requiring employers to include contraception coverage with no out-of-pocket costs to employees in insurance plans. The most famous (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Zubik v. Burwell) both led to the Supreme Court.

BREAKING: The Trump admin just issued a rule rolling back birth control coverage for 62.4 MILLION women. In this sense, it didn't accommodate them at all.

Legal disputes over the mandate reached the Supreme Court.

With the new rules, Trump would be fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

"It is a huge loophole for any employer that does not want to provide birth control coverage to their employees", says Dania Palanker, a professor at Georgetown's Center on Health Insurance Reform.

Senators unveil driverless vehicle bill Calif. AG: Trump backs down on greenhouse gas rule Overnight Energy: California cities sue oil giants over climate change MORE (D) said he is prepared to "take all action, including legal action", to defend the mandate.