Jul 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court allows Trump's exemptions to ACA contraception rule

Supreme Court

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Many employers with a religious or moral objection to contraception don't have to cover birth control in their workers' health care plans, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The big picture: The court has been wrestling for years with religious objections to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate. Today's 7-2 ruling put the court's stamp of approval on a relatively broad set of exemptions.

How we got here: The Obama administration, as part of its implementation of the ACA, required all employer-based health insurance plans to cover all federally approved forms of contraception, with no co-pays or other cost-sharing for workers.

  • That requirement has been challenged in court several times, and the Supreme Court has consistently sided with employers seeking exemptions from the rules.
  • It created the first exemption in 2014. After the Obama administration tried to rewrite the rules in response, the court made it try again.
  • Then the Trump administration came in and created new, broader exemptions. Critics sued, saying the administration hadn't followed the proper procedures for writing those rules. Tuesday's ruling rejected that claim, saying the Trump administration acted within its legal authority.

Where it stands now: Companies that aren't publicly traded only need to assert a moral objection — not necessarily a religious one — to gain an exemption from the coverage requirement. Any employer can seek a religious exemption.

  • Religiously affiliated universities are exempt, as are houses of worship.
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