KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Appeals Court Rules Against Health Law’s Contraception Rule

News outlets covered the blow to the Obama administration's requirement that insurance policies include free coverage for women's birth control.

Reuters: U.S. Appeals Court Backs Employer In 'Contraception Mandate' Case 
A federal appeals court in Washington joined other courts on Friday by ruling for an employer who raised religious objections to a provision of the 2010 U.S. healthcare law requiring companies to provide insurance that covers birth control. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on a 2-1 vote in favor of Catholic brothers Francis and Philip Gilardi, owners of Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, who do not want to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion(Hurley, 11/1).

The Associated Press: Appeals Court Deals Blow To Contraceptive Mandate
Writing for the majority, Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote that the mandate "trammels the right of free exercise - a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties_as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act." ... In an opinion dissenting from the court's main holding in the case, Judge Harry T. Edwards wrote that legislative restrictions may trump religious exercise. He asked what, if the Gilardis' companies were exempted from covering contraception, would stop another company from seeking an exemption from a requirement to cover vaccines? (Frommer, 11/1).

The New York Times: Court Rules Contraception Mandate Infringes On Religious Freedom 
Of nearly 40 challenges, only a handful of courts have upheld the government’s requirement that employer health plans provide free birth control, emergency contraception and sterilization. Francis A. Gilardi Jr. and Philip M. Gilardi, brothers from Sidney, Ohio, should not have to provide contraception coverage to employees of the companies they own if it goes against their Catholic faith, the court ruled. However, those companies themselves, Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, do not have the right to challenge the mandate on religious grounds, the court said. As a result, the ruling was only a “partial victory” for mandate opponents (Wheaton, 11/1).

The Hill: Court Strikes Down Mandate For Birth Control In ObamaCare 
Republicans in Congress have pushed for a conscience clause that would allow employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage for moral or religious reasons. .... Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the ObamaCare mandate to cover contraception. People who work for religiously affiliated institutions can get birth control directly from their insurance companies (Hattem, 11/1).

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