KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Administration: Contraception Rule Does Not Burden Religious Groups

In the latest legal skirmish over the so-called contraceptive mandate in the health law, Obama administration lawyers urged Justice Sonia Sotomayor to drop an appeal from the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic groups. Nonprofit religious charities can opt out of the requirement, they argued. The rule already faces a challenge from several for-profit companies that will be heard by the high court.

Politico: Administration Faces Tough Fight On Contraception Cases
As a new round of religion-based challenges to President Barack Obama’s health care law head to the Supreme Court, advocates on both sides of the issue say the administration’s arguments are likely facing a chilly reception. On Friday, the Obama administration urged the court to reject a plea from an order of nuns who say a provision of Obamacare conflicts with their opposition to birth control. Already, the Supreme Court is preparing to hear two cases filed by private companies who say contraception provisions in the law violate their firms’ rights to religious freedom. Together, the cases could recreate a broad left-right coalition on the court that has emerged in the past decade to defend religious rights against alleged government intrusions (Gerstein, 1/4).

CQ HealthBeat: Solicitor General Argues Contraception Rule Doesn't Burden Religious Groups
The Justice Department on Friday appealed to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to reconsider her Dec. 31 decision to temporarily block the federal government from requiring a nonprofit Catholic organization in Colorado to make birth control coverage available to its employees under the 2010 health care overhaul (1/3).

McClatchy: No Need To Delay Obamacare Birth Control Rule, Administration Says
Obama administration lawyers strongly urged Justice Sonia Sotomayor and her fellow Supreme Court members to drop an appeal from the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic groups who object to the so-called contraceptive mandate in the new health care law. Nonprofit religious charities already can opt out of the requirement to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptives and therefore have nothing to complain about, U.S. Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr. told the court. "With the stroke of their own pen," the nuns and other Roman Catholic charities "can secure for themselves the relief they seek from this court" (Savage, 1/5).

CNN: 5 Things To Know About Obamacare And Contraceptives
A court order could ultimately impact scores of religious groups and non-profit businesses, ... But it would be only a stop-gap or temporary measure, either blocking or allowing enforcement until the federal courts decide larger legal and constitutional questions. ... Separately, the justices in March will take up a related challenge to the birth control coverage mandate. That appeal concerns whether some for-profit corporations should be exempt, again on religious liberty grounds (1/3). 

Earlier KHN news coverage summary: Justice Dept. Defends Birth Control Rule Against Nuns' Suit (1/5).

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