ACA birth control mandate heads to the Supreme Court

ACA birth control mandate heads to the Supreme Court | Insurance Business America

ACA birth control mandate heads to the Supreme Court
The Affordable Care Act is no stranger to the Supreme Court at this juncture, but it’s headed for a return appearance as the country’s highest court agreed Tuesday to consider the law’s birth control mandate.

At issue is whether President Barack Obama’s healthcare law violates religious freedom through a provision that requires most employers to provide coverage for a range of preventive health benefits, including contraception.

The suit was brought by nearly 50 for-profit companies who say they should not be forced to provide coverage for something that would violate their religious beliefs. Among the plaintiffs is the craft chain Hobby Lobby, which boasts roughly 500 stores nationwide and 1,300 employees.

Hobby Lobby owner David Green said the company does not oppose funding forms of contraception like condoms and diaphragms, but objects to intrauterine devices, which Green says are tantamount to abortion. Other plaintiffs don’t want to pay for any form of birth control.

In the plaintiffs’ Supreme Court brief, however, they agree on one thing: corporations ought to experience the same religious protection as individuals do under then 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the last court to hear the case, agreed.

The White House, meanwhile, said it believes the law’s requirement is “lawful and essential to women’s health” and is “confident the Supreme Court will agree.”

In its Supreme Court brief, the Obama administration added that if the Court sided with birth control opponents, it would make the ACA “a sword used to deny employees of for-profit commercial enterprises the benefits and protections of generally applicable laws.”

The mandate has long been a sore spot for the White House, which says it has already provided exemptions for churches and nonprofits under the ACA. In these cases, female employees will receive contraception coverage from another company at no cost.

If the Court upholds the birth control mandate, companies that refuse to provide coverage face fines of up to $1.3mn daily.