Trump administration weakens Obamacare birth control coverage mandate

The ...

Posted: Nov 8, 2018 8:13 AM
Updated: Nov 8, 2018 8:13 AM

The Trump administration issued two final rules on Wednesday providing employers more flexibility with exemptions to deny women insurance coverage for birth control.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employer-provided health insurance plans are required to cover birth control as a preventive service.

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Now, the US Department of Health and Human Services has issued a final rule providing exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate to entities that object to such coverage based on religious beliefs. The second final rule provides exemption to nonprofit organizations and small businesses that may have non-religious moral convictions to such coverage.

These rules finalize interim rules that were issued last year and take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register, according to the agency.

"The religious and moral exemptions provided by these rules also apply to institutions of education, issuers, and individuals. The Departments are not extending the moral exemption to publicly traded businesses, or either exemption to government entities," the agency said in a news release Wednesday.

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the nonprofit National Women's Law Center, issued a statement Wednesday in response to the Trump administration finalizing the birth control rules.

"The Trump Administration decided to finalize these outrageous rules, despite several pending lawsuits and two federal courts blocking them," Graves said.

"It's clear that this Administration will stop at nothing to attack women's health care. By taking away access to no-cost birth control coverage, these rules try to give a license to virtually any employer, university, or health insurance provider to discriminate," she said. "But if the Administration thinks it can move these rules forward without a fight, they're wrong. Countless women depend on this critical birth control coverage for their health and economic stability -- and we will continue to fiercely defend them."

The conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom released a statement from Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor in response to the rules on Wednesday.

"The beliefs that inspire Christian colleges and universities, as well as groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to serve their communities should be protected," Baylor said. "Through these regulations, President Trump kept his promise that people of faith wouldn't be bullied on his watch. At the same time, contraceptives will remain readily available to those who wish to use them."

Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, a national organization representing publicly funded family planning providers and administrators, said in a statement Wednesday that the rules "could leave millions of women without access to birth control and reverse some of the important public health progress made under the Affordable Care Act in recent years," she said. "Family planning has been designated one of top ten public health achievements of the 21st century. It is baffling that the administration would support any policy that could diminish access to this essential preventive care."

In October 2017, the Trump administration issued two interim final rules providing an exemption for those who had religious or moral objections to such coverage, while seeking public comment on the rules.

In 2017, Health and Human Services officials said the rule would have no impact on "99.9% of women" in the United States. It based that percentage on the 165 million women in America, many of whom are not in their childbearing years.

The agency calculated that, at most, 120,000 women would be affected: mainly those who work at the roughly 200 entities that have been involved in 50 or so lawsuits over birth control coverage.

Policy experts, however, argued that this could open the door to hundreds of employers dropping coverage.

For instance, there are hundreds of Catholic hospitals, nursing homes and nonprofits that may want to stop providing contraceptives, said Tim Jost, emeritus professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Experts pointed out last year that many women use birth control for more than pregnancy prevention, including treatment of hormonal imbalances and endometriosis.

"There is no way to know how many women will be affected," said Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on health policy research and communications.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 3171
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7731171
DeSoto655177
Harrison478481
Jackson429178
Rankin380086
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Lee339279
Forrest292777
Jones281682
Washington250697
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Lauderdale2329130
Lamar212038
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Oktibbeha194154
Neshoba1795111
Lowndes173662
Panola164736
Leflore158786
Sunflower156749
Warren151854
Monroe143672
Pontotoc143019
Pike135555
Lincoln133954
Copiah133336
Marshall130026
Coahoma122836
Scott122729
Grenada119637
Simpson117648
Yazoo116933
Union113825
Holmes113060
Tate112339
Leake111839
Itawamba108724
Pearl River107456
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George93217
Marion92642
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Newton84227
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Winston81421
Tishomingo78640
Hancock76527
Attala76325
Clarke70948
Clay66621
Jasper66016
Walthall63427
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith57716
Claiborne53016
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence48914
Yalobusha47914
Perry47522
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Stone44614
Amite41513
Quitman4096
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39311
Webster36313
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31615
Benton3004
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26210
Franklin2283
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 152272

Reported Deaths: 2621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22300372
Mobile14273314
Tuscaloosa9886132
Montgomery9615196
Madison895192
Shelby700260
Lee643066
Baldwin636967
Marshall425348
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Morgan393232
Houston362332
DeKalb313326
Elmore308152
St. Clair276742
Limestone268327
Walker264192
Talladega253634
Cullman223923
Lauderdale204340
Autauga198928
Franklin198131
Jackson197914
Russell18993
Colbert188927
Dallas184527
Blount182723
Chilton178731
Escambia170328
Covington164429
Coffee16299
Dale161551
Pike130112
Tallapoosa126986
Chambers126643
Clarke126116
Marion103929
Butler99640
Barbour9819
Marengo96421
Winston88613
Geneva8297
Pickens79317
Randolph79314
Lawrence78830
Bibb78513
Hale73729
Cherokee71414
Clay70312
Lowndes69827
Bullock63417
Henry6286
Monroe6259
Washington62012
Crenshaw58830
Perry5796
Conecuh55413
Wilcox55412
Fayette54012
Macon52819
Cleburne5207
Sumter46421
Lamar4555
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
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