Biden Administration Plans to Expand Obamacare Coverage for Birth Control

January 30, 2023

The Biden Administration proposed a new rule to allow women enrolled in Obamacare access to birth control even if their employer, school or health plan objects on religious grounds.

Under 2018 Affordable Care Act rules, some women and covered dependents could only get contraceptive access if their plan sponsor voluntarily signs a form saying the organization would not cover contraceptive services on religious or moral grounds.

That left many women without access to no-cost birth control if their sponsor did not sign the form, according to the Administration.

The proposed rule, unveiled Monday by the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and Treasury, would create an independent pathway for people enrolled in plans from employers who have religious exemptions by giving the employees access contraceptive services through an outside, willing provider free of charge.

The proposed rule, then, leaves in place the existing religious exemption for employers with objections, while making an optional accommodation for contraceptive coverage.

“We had to really think through how to do this in the right way to satisfy both sides, but we think we found that way,” an HHS official told CNN, stressing that there should be no effect on religiously affiliated employers who object to funding contraceptives.

The proposal comes more than half a year after Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a separate opinion adjacent to Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, during which the Supreme Court erased the Constitutional right to abortion, “[I]n future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” referring to those that guaranteed the rights to contraceptives, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.

The 117th Congress in December passed the “Respect for Marriage Act,” a bipartisan bill protecting same-sex and interracial marriage by requiring that individual states recognize another state’s legal marriage.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the Administration’s contraceptive coverage proposal over the next few months. Officials expect there to be several thousand public comments, and it will be “many months” before the rule could be finalized.

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