KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

New Moral, Religious Exemptions To Birth Control Mandate Prompt Medical Groups To Speak Out

“Contraception is a medical necessity for women during approximately 30 years of their lives,” the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said. About 200 employers that are involved in suing the government over the requirement to provide contraception coverage would likely take advantage of the rule change, the administration estimated.

The New York Times: Trump Administration Rolls Back Birth Control Mandate
The Trump administration on Friday moved to expand the rights of employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraception and issued sweeping guidance on religious freedom that critics said could also erode civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The twin actions, by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department, were meant to carry out a promise issued by President Trump five months ago, when he declared in the Rose Garden that “we will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.” (Pear, Ruiz and Goodstein, 10/6)

The Washington Post: Trump Administration Narrows Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Mandate
The rules significantly widen the range of employers and insurers that can invoke religious or moral beliefs to avoid the ACA requirement that birth control pills and other contraceptives be covered by insurance as part of preventive care. Administration officials and their allies on the right downplayed the impact of the change on American women, while women’s rights and civil liberties groups portrayed it as a massive, discriminatory act. (Goldstein, Eilperin and Wan, 10/6)

The Associated Press: Birth Control: Trump Expands Opt-Out For Workplace Insurance
The new policy was a long-anticipated revision to Affordable Care Act requirements that most companies cover birth control as preventive care for women, at no additional cost. That Obama-era requirement applies to all FDA-approved methods, including the morning-after pill, which some religious conservatives call an abortion drug, though scientists say it has no effect on women who are already pregnant. (10/6)

Politico: Trump Rolls Back Obamacare Birth Control Mandate
The new policies, which take effect immediately, reignite a fierce battle over one of the health care law's most controversial provisions and quickly drew legal challenges. The requirement to provide FDA-approved contraception at no cost was long opposed by religious groups that heavily favored Trump, and has been wrapped up in litigation for more than five years. (Ehley, 10/6)

NPR: Trump Weakens Requirement That Work-Based Health Policies Cover Birth Control
"This provides an exemption, and it's a limited one," said Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights. "We should have space for organizations to live out their religious identity and not face discrimination." He said he expects that most companies will continue to provide coverage for birth control and that the changes will only affect a tiny percentage of U.S. women. The new rules are being published Friday in the Federal Register and go into effect immediately. But some health policy analysts say the new rule creates a huge opening that lets any employer claim an exemption, leaving their female workers to pay the full cost of any birth control out of pocket. (Kodjak, 10/6)

Stat: Obamacare' Birth Control Mandate Rolled Back By Trump Administration
Women’s health advocates said millions of women who had gained access to birth control at no cost would be at risk of losing that coverage. They also said some employers not associated with religious movements will use the move to justify declining to cover birth control because of unspecified moral objections. (Facher, 10/6)

Bloomberg: Trump Religion Rule Curbs Obamacare’s Birth Control Coverage 
The American College of Physicians said the rule change will “create substantial barriers to patients receiving appropriate medical care as recommended by their physicians.” The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said the rules would hurt patients. “Contraception is a medical necessity for women during approximately 30 years of their lives,” the group said. “It improves the health of women, children and families as well as communities overall; reduces maternal mortality; and enhances economic stability for women and their families.” (Tracer, Edney and Larson, 10/6)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.