1AP’s 3 Things to Know — HHS New Contraception Mandate Rule

1. The federal contraceptive mandate will remain in place for most employers but will now include a real exemption for religious groups.

  • The US government has now acknowledged that people can get contraceptives without forcing nuns to provide them. Continued fights are unnecessary and divisive.
  • The change to the ACA rule is an important step toward allowing the Little Sisters of the Poor to once again focus on fulfilling their mission of serving the elderly poor. 

2.  Final resolution from the courts is still needed, but that should be easy now that the government has admitted to breaking the law.

  • The old rule would have forced the Little Sisters to choose between their faith and mission, or paying approximately 75 million dollars a year in fines. The government has lost its argument at the Supreme Court five times and now admits the litigation was unnecessary.
  • This new rule doesn’t get rid of the contraception mandate. Rather, it creates a targeted, commonsense protection for religious groups like the Little Sisters.
  • The exemptions the government handed out for cost-saving reasons, in addition to exempting its own health care plans (for the disabled and the military), dwarf the number of groups that will be impacted by the interim rule.

3.  The rule takes effect immediately, but can be revised by HHS before being issued as final.

  • Relief in court is still necessary because this is an interim rule which means it can be changed and groups have already promised to sue. Those suits are unlikely to be successful as those groups did not challenge many of the exemptions handed out by the Obama administration, including exemptions for big businesses and the government’s own plans.
  • In a new memo, the Attorney General directs DOJ to implement these religious liberty protections into how the agency handles cases against religious objectors.

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