Obama Adjusts Health Care Rules to Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Ruling

Monday, August 25, 2014
Hobby Lobby founders David and Barbara Green (photo: Hobby Lobby, AP)

As the conservative-dominated Supreme Court has moved the goalposts on the birth control provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Obama administration has attempted to keep up. The administration has now provided for birth control coverage for employees of closely held companies whose owners have objections to contraception.


When the court handed down its decision in the Hobby Lobby case, it curtailed the rights of employees in favor of the rights of corporations, saying they could withhold compliance with the contraception mandate of the ACA because of “sincerely held religious beliefs” on the part of the corporate owners.


The new rule allows such corporations the same out as previously given to non-profit organizations with similar objections. They file a form with the insurer or write a letter stating their objections to the Department of Health and Human Services, and the company’s insurance carrier is required to provide contraception coverage without cost to the employer. The provision for writing a letter came when Wheaton College objected to filing the form, claiming that was also a violation of its religious freedom. The college had offered contraception coverage to its employees for years before it raised objections to the ACA.


This accommodation would appear to comply with guidelines laid down in Hobby Lobby and the earlier Wheaton College case. Some ACA opponents still aren’t satisfied though. “What remains an insulting accounting gimmick does not protect the rights of Americans with sincere conscientious objections,” Arina Grossu, an official with the Family Research Council, said in a release.


The next question is, do these religious exemptions stop with contraception? If the Supreme Court allows exceptions to the law for birth control, don’t they have to do the same for employers who object to vaccinations or blood transfusions?


“This is why everybody was so worried about the Hobby Lobby decision in the first place,” University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley said to The New Republic. “The Court proved itself extremely accommodating to employers who claimed religious objections to neutral laws. The question is, where does that end?” 

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Obama Administration Calls The Supreme Court’s Bluff In Hobby Lobby (by Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress)

Obama Tweaks the Birth Control Mandate—and the Right Is Still Angry (by Jonathan Cohn, New Republic)

Women’s Preventive Services Coverage and Non-Profit Religious Organizations (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

Female Justices Object to Unsigned Supreme Court Order Favoring Christian College’s Objection to Birth Control Compromise (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Hobby Lobby Ruling Puts Rights of Employers above Rights of Employees (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Dee 2 years ago
To suggest that women or men for that matter have lost a right is ludicrous. They have lost nothing. They retain the right to terminate life just as before Obama Care and employers have retained their right not to fund such termination of life and yet the court has failed to address protecting these rights as a fundamental God given right to freedom. Don't tread on me, my property, or my faith, thank you.

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