Jan 30, 2023 - Health

Biden administration proposes strengthening health law's contraception mandate

Picture of birth control pills

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday moved to reverse a Trump-era policy that made it easier for employers to refuse to offer birth control coverage in company-sponsored health plans.

The big picture: The Trump administration's rollback of the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate allowed organizations to opt out of coverage, citing moral objections. Before that, exemptions were limited to religious grounds.

  • The Trump administration rule was challenged in court on the grounds it could cause irreversible harm to women but took effect in 2018.

Driving the news: The new rule — proposed by the Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor departments — would get rid of the "moral" exemption and retain the "religious" one.

  • It would also create an "independent pathway" for people who have insurers with religious exemptions to access birth control through a "willing contraceptive provider" at no cost, according to an HHS press release.

What they're saying: "If this rule is finalized, individuals who have health plans that would otherwise be subject to the ACA preventive services requirements but have not covered contraceptive services because of a moral or religious objection, would now have access," said Chiquila Brooks-LaSure, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

By the numbers: HHS estimates that the proposal could affect over 100 employers and 125,000 workers, CNN reports.

What's next: The public has a 60-day window to comment on the rule.

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