KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court Gives Nuns Temporary Reprieve On Health Law’s Contraceptive Mandate

SCOTUS Blog: Partial Win For Little Sisters
The Supreme Court on Friday afternoon gave an order of Roman Catholic nuns some added protection against the enforcement of a part of the Affordable Care Act, and spared them — for now — from having to file a government form in order to be exempt. The order, released after weeks of uncertainty, came without noted dissent in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor, et al., v. Sebelius (application 13A691). The bar to enforcement of the so-called "contraceptive mandate" against two groups of the Little Sisters order will remain in effect while their challenge unfolds and reaches a final decision before the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.  The Supreme Court order stressed that it was not ruling on the merits of that challenge (Dennison, 1/24).

Politico: Supreme Court Grants Temporary Reprieve From Contraceptive Mandate
The Obama administration cannot enforce the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage requirements against a Catholic nuns' order for the time being, if the nuns tell the government they object to providing that coverage, the Supreme Court ruled Friday afternoon. The Supreme Court's action could defuse for the time being a showdown between religious employers and the federal government over the procedures for providing contraceptive coverage to employees of hospitals, nursing homes and other entities run by religious groups (Gerstein, 1/24).

The New York Times: Justices Extend Order Blocking Contraception Mandate For Nuns
The health law requires most employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. The nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor said the requirement is offensive to their religious beliefs. An accommodation allowing them to opt out of the requirement — by issuing a certification to an insurance company to offer the coverage independently — also made them complicit in immoral conduct, the nuns said (Liptak, 1/24).

The Associated Press: Court Gives Nuns A Compromise On Health Care Issue
The Supreme Court is offering a short-term compromise to continue to exempt a group of Denver nuns that operates charity nursing homes from the birth control mandate of the nation's health care law. The court is asking them to declare in writing that they have religious objections to providing that coverage. The nuns had said earlier that a government form they were being asked to sign violates their religious beliefs (1/24).

Reuters: Nuns Get Partial Win In Supreme Court Contraception Fight
Dozens of other Catholic groups are involved in similar litigation across the country. Most have already won temporary injunctions. So far, no federal appeals court has ruled on the merits of the groups' claims, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the Little Sisters (Hurley, 1/24).

The Supreme Court's order can be found here.

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