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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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 473413

Reported Deaths: 9214
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32339474
Hinds30703575
DeSoto29814346
Jackson23263336
Rankin21111358
Lee14600217
Madison14043265
Jones13165218
Forrest12953233
Lauderdale11418297
Lowndes10249175
Lamar10048128
Pearl River8737209
Lafayette8078136
Hancock7324111
Washington6837147
Oktibbeha6820118
Neshoba6404201
Monroe6372158
Warren6326161
Pontotoc610393
Panola6071124
Bolivar6016143
Marshall5972118
Union564086
Pike5491133
Lincoln5232130
Alcorn520888
George457868
Scott451993
Leflore4401140
Prentiss437276
Itawamba436198
Tippah436180
Simpson4268111
Copiah425586
Wayne424863
Tate4234100
Adams4219114
Yazoo415886
Sunflower4088104
Covington407391
Marion4032100
Leake393185
Coahoma388198
Newton364474
Grenada3517101
Stone345657
Tishomingo324888
Attala321185
Jasper310262
Winston300391
Clay288273
Chickasaw282164
Clarke277487
Calhoun259739
Holmes259485
Smith243947
Yalobusha216747
Tallahatchie215649
Walthall205557
Greene204045
Lawrence203831
Perry196453
Amite193751
Webster191941
Noxubee174538
Montgomery169853
Jefferson Davis165541
Carroll159937
Tunica148434
Benton139433
Kemper137439
Claiborne125634
Choctaw124925
Humphreys123337
Franklin115227
Quitman101825
Wilkinson99835
Jefferson86632
Sharkey62120
Issaquena1916
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768301

Reported Deaths: 13209
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1093481727
Mobile699891179
Madison48418589
Baldwin35707452
Shelby35193291
Tuscaloosa33029512
Montgomery32582664
Lee21908204
Calhoun20140377
Morgan19351318
Etowah18583433
Marshall17272259
Houston16139353
St. Clair14956276
Limestone14129180
Cullman14069235
Elmore14010245
Lauderdale13128272
Talladega12399215
DeKalb11890229
Walker10231312
Autauga9493127
Blount9418149
Jackson9115136
Coffee8646161
Colbert8324169
Dale8284159
Escambia6456106
Tallapoosa6394168
Covington6313157
Chilton6243133
Russell591654
Franklin563597
Chambers5240132
Marion4628115
Dallas4626178
Clarke451471
Pike450091
Geneva4252106
Winston407987
Lawrence4046102
Bibb396177
Barbour338968
Marengo320981
Monroe311547
Butler309783
Pickens298769
Randolph294055
Henry293856
Hale286081
Cherokee279850
Fayette272271
Washington243545
Crenshaw232265
Clay221561
Macon214454
Cleburne209748
Lamar187839
Conecuh177139
Lowndes169056
Coosa163631
Wilcox154335
Bullock147142
Perry134235
Sumter123335
Greene119241
Choctaw72325
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