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New Exemptions to ACA’s Contraceptive Requirement

The Trump administration recently revised part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to allow more employers to opt out of covering contraception under their health plans.

As enacted, the ACA required employers to provide certain preventive care and screenings for women under their health insurance plans. Contraceptive coverage was part of the care required subject to limited religious objections from non-profits and churches, who could receive an exemption. In the Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the ACA’s accommodations of religious objections should be expanded to include closely held for-profit organizations. Under the ACA, accommodations granted were intended to still allow women to receive contraception under the plan but shift the obligation to provide them to third-party administrators or health insurance issuers.

Under the new rules released by the Trump Administration, all non-governmental plan sponsors and health insurance issuers may request and qualify for a birth control exemption based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Individuals with strong religious beliefs may also object to the offering of contraception in their plans. Making the exemption even broader, the new rules also allow entities and individuals with sincerely held moral convictions to request an exemption from the requirement that they provide contraceptive care.