How the White House Is Changing Obamacare to Comply With Hobby Lobby

areeya_ann/Shutterstock.com

The Obama administration released new plans Friday to soften Obamacare's contraception mandate in response to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling.

Certain for-profit companies, like Hobby Lobby, will be able to avoid directly covering birth control, using the same "accommodation" available to employers like Catholic hospitals and universities.

The Health and Human Services Department also proposed new guidelines for how employers should register their religious objections to covering birth control—an attempt to accommodate religious groups that object to filling out a particular form.

The Affordable Care Act requires most employers to include all FDA-approved contraceptives in their workers' health care plans, without charging a co-pay or deductible. But some business owners said the requirement would force them to violate their religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that "closely held" corporations do not have to comply with the birth-control mandate if their owners have a religious objection. The court said HHS should find a less restrictive means of ensuring that women have access to contraception coverage, and HHS outlined that option on Friday.

Under HHS's latest proposal, closely held for-profit companies would be able use the same workaround as religious-affiliated employers, such as Catholic hospitals.

If those employers object to covering certain forms of contraception in their health care plans, they can push the coverage burden to their insurance companies. The employers don't have to pay for the coverage or tell employees how to use it, and insurers are prohibited from padding the company's premiums to pay for the benefit.

The White House has said the workaround won't be a problem for insurance companies because contraception is relatively inexpensive—and far less expensive than covering a pregnancy and a child.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has helped coordinate the legal challenges to the mandate, said it was still reviewing the proposal, calling it "the latest step in the administration's long retreat" from the original mandate.

Also on Friday, HHS proposed changes in the process religious employers use to claim an exemption. Employers can notify the government that they object to covering birth control, rather than sending a notice to their insurance company.

Some religious groups, including Wheaton College and a Catholic organization called Little Sisters of the Poor, said their religious beliefs were threatened when they filed the form with their insurance companies. They argued that because they knew that filing the form would activate coverage of a drug they find immoral, they shouldn't have to begin that process.

(Image via areeya_ann/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.