Federal Legislation Introduced to Restore Full Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives in Wake of Hobby Lobby
Center for Reproductive Rights Applauds Legislation, Calls the Bill “Bold” and “Necessary”
(PRESS RELEASE) Congressional leaders introduced legislation today designed to ensure that bosses cannot deny employees full coverage of contraceptives and other essential health care in company insurance plans based solely on their personal beliefs—a direct response to last week’s Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell.
Said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Personal beliefs and spurious scientific assertions are no basis for health care policy in any form, and this bold and necessary bill would rightly keep bosses from interfering with insurance coverage of vital women’s health care.
“Especially in light of the Supreme Court’s profoundly troubling decision in Hobby Lobby, all employees need solid protection from intrusion by their bosses into their private health care decisions.
“Contraception empowers women to plan their families and future, prevents millions of unintended pregnancies, and saves billions in health care costs. This bill is a common-sense response to an out-of-touch ruling, and we urge Congress to pass it as soon as possible.”
Introduced by Senators Patty Murray and Mark Udall and Representatives Diana DeGette, Louise Slaughter, and Jerry Nadler, the “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act” would ensure that employers cannot interfere in their employees’ decisions about contraception and other health services by banning employers from refusing to cover any health care service—including contraception—guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law. The bill also establishes that other federal laws—including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—do not permit employers to refuse to comply with federal health care coverage requirements. Lastly, the bill maintains the existing exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement for houses of worship and the accommodation for religious non-profits.
Last week’s ruling in Hobby Lobby allowed closely held corporations to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control under the Affordable Care Act’s preventive health provisions, which were designed to greatly expand affordable health care services for all women in the U.S. The decision held that the requirement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that employers cover all FDA-approved forms of contraception violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because, according to Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, the requirement violates “the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies’ owners.”