What You Need To Know About the Birth Control Mandate Rollback

President Donald Trump and his Department of Health and Human Services have followed through on a campaign promise made to the religious right and rolled back a rule requiring that all entities that offer health insurance offer no co-pay contraception as one of its benefits. But while this new rule is unfortunate, it’s still not as dire as it could be. Here’s what you need to know about the mandate rollback.

1) Is the birth control mandate totally gone?

Getting rid of no co-pay birth control completely has been one of the goals of the right, and is why they want to repeal Obamacare all together, hoping insurers would again be allowed to offer “skinny” plans that don’t mandate coverage. But that hasn’t happened and instead the GOP has to work within the confines of the existing law. Because they cannot remove the mandate, they have expanded who can ask to be exempt from the mandate. Now, instead of just churches themselves, any religious organization can block employees from no co-pay contraception. Plus, any business that objects to contraception for “moral” or “religious” reasons can reject coverage, too, regardless of how large or small they are or whether they are secular or not.

2) Is this the “Blunt Amendment”?

If this sounds familiar, yes, this is basically the Blunt Amendment, which the GOP struggled to pass ever since President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. But the Blunt Amendment would have gone even further, allowing employers to also refuse to cover other medical treatments and preventative care that they didn’t approve of (maternity care for an unwed mother, additional services for someone with an alcohol problem) so at least things aren’t quite as bad as that, yet.

3) Didn’t the Supreme Court already take care of this?

True, SCOTUS took a swing at things during the Hobby Lobby case and Little Sisters of the Poor. Those cases established the exemption for religious non-profits or “closely-held” private companies. This rule is different as it opens the doors for exemptions for any company, non-profit, college, and so on. It also makes it far easier to obtain an exception. Instead of having to fill out paperwork and register, the entity simply has to notify those who are insured under the plans that they are no longer being offered birth control coverage.

4) Will this affect many people?

It’s difficult to know for sure. Lots of employers – even religious ones – believe birth control is a great investment. Employees can get pregnant when they choose, it saves health care expenses for pregnancy – especially unplanned pregnancies, which can have more medical issues because of lack of preconception and early prenatal care and additional stresses – and helps people better participate in the workforce, cutting down training and employment costs. But there will definitely be some who take the opportunity to deny contraceptive care.

“The administration estimated that some 200 employers who have already voiced objections to the Obama-era policy would qualify for the expanded opt-out, and that 120,000 women would be affected,” NPR reports. “However, it’s unclear how major religious-affiliated employers such as Catholic hospitals and universities will respond.”

5) When is this happening?

The new rules go into effect immediately after the new rules are put on display at the office of the Federal Register. However, if your insurance plan is going to be affected, someone will have to notify you first that it is changing.

6) Is anyone fighting this?

The ACLU announced it is suing the administration over the new rules as unconstitutional. The Hill reports that  Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney at the ACLU said the law, “basically gives broad license to employers to discriminate against their employees and withhold a benefit guaranteed by law…We will challenge both rules as being blatantly unconstitutional. They both violate the separation of church and state and also discriminate against women by allowing employers to withhold a benefit that is guaranteed by law.”

With the current make up of the Supreme Court it is difficult to know if the suit would be successful.

7) What can I do?

You can fill out a comment card to the Department of Health and Human Services explaining your opposition to the change. While the comment period is actually open after the rule change rather than before, it’s still good to weigh in and let the administration know that birth control is a right and one that shouldn’t be determined by who you work for or where you go to school.

Also, if you think that your plan might be affected, it may be a good idea to look for a long lasting reversible form of birth control, like an IUD. But don’t rush yourself into a decision that isn’t best for you.

Finally, as always, vote in every election, local, state and national. If you live in a progressive state, encourage your lawmakers to pass a reproductive health bill that will forbid employers from pushing their personal moral agendas on your health care. And even if you live in a red state or mixed state, push for the same legislation. Remind conservative lawmakers that the right to prevent a pregnancy shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and birth control reduces abortion.

 

Photo credit: Thinkstock

51 comments

Ellie M
Ellie M2 days ago

ty

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Karen H
Karen H5 days ago

Signed a "comment card". I've also emailed my misrepresentatives going on 160 times since Inauguration Day, plus signed a ton of petitions & called their offices. I am NOT voting for either Brian Mast or Marco Rubio when they run for re-election, and I've told them so. The GOP considers itself "pro-life", but they're definitely anti-QUALITY of life. No healthcare for a pregnant woman, no pre-natal care for new babies, no healthcare for children, no good education for kids, no school lunches for kids. They're just trying to get as much mindless fodder for their next war.

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R9 days ago

well said, Sue H.

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Janis K
Janis K9 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Toni W
Toni W9 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W9 days ago

Thank you for interesting read!

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Arlene C
Arlene C10 days ago

Merci Robin

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Jaime J
Jaime J10 days ago

Thank you!!

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Joette B
Joette B10 days ago

HEARD OF OVERPOPULATION?

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Paulo R
Paulo Reeson11 days ago

ty

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