The government agencies responsible for the implementation of health care reform issued proposed rules and interim final regulations expanding the universe of employers who can make a religious objection to providing contraceptive coverage under their health plans. Health care reform mandates that virtually all health plans must provide preventive services without cost sharing. Contraception is considered a preventive service that must be covered by a health plan.
Last year, the government offered churches and religious nonprofit employers the ability to opt out of the contraceptive coverage mandate by filing a form with the government. Over the past year, there have been court cases by other, for-profit entities challenging the obligation to cover contraceptives.
In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the religious accommodation exception should be available to closely held, for-profit businesses with religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage. The government agencies now released rules consistent with the Hobby Lobby ruling. They also released a form that businesses may use to inform the government of their religious objection.