Q&A: 4 takeaways from the rollback of key contraception coverage provision

Mary Agnes Carey and Lexie Verdon, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Political News

On Friday, the Trump administration announced new regulations governing contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The rules will make sweeping changes to the law's requirement that most employers provide coverage of birth control with no out-of-pocket costs to women.

The changes were hailed by religious groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which said it was "a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice and peaceful coexistence between church and state." But others, including the National Women's Law Center, said they plan to file suit against the rules. The National Health Law Program said that the rules appeared "legally suspect."

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the new rules.

Q: What is the new policy?

A: Trump administration officials said they are significantly rolling back rules requiring many insurers to provide contraceptive coverage to women. Employers with a moral or religious objection to contraceptive services will be allowed to stop offering that coverage.

Under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration had issued rules requiring most plans to cover all contraception methods that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration with no out-of-pocket cost to women. The provision does not cover plans that have a grandfathered status under the law.

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That guarantee was whittled back through regulation and court actions to exempt some religious-based organizations, such as churches, and some privately held companies in which the owners have strong objections to contraception. Other nonprofit religious employers were offered an accommodation so that they didn't contract or pay for the insurance coverage for their workers.

The rules unveiled Friday expand those exemptions to any nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies with firm religious opposition, as well as health plans provided to students at colleges with a religious affiliation. A second rule extends an exemption to organizations and privately held companies that have moral objections.

If an employer doesn't have any moral or religious objections to contraception coverage, current ACA guidelines still apply. Federal policy for programs that offer free or subsidized coverage to low-income women also will not change.

The rules become effective as soon as they are published in the Federal Register, which is expected soon. View them online here and here.


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