KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

High Court To Hear Arguments In Case Mixing Religious Freedoms And Birth Control Coverage

The case, which touches various politically charged issues, could have implications beyond the health law's birth control coverage requirement.

The Washington Post: At Supreme Court Today: Health-Law Cases Mix Questions Of Religious Freedom, Worker Rights
The Supreme Court on Tuesday prepared to hear a second challenge to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, this time to decide whether employers must provide their workers with insurance coverage for contraceptives even if the owners say it would violate their religious principles. What is likely to be the signature ruling of the court’s term presents the justices with complicated questions about religious freedom and equality for female workers. It could have long-term implications for what other legal requirements companies could decline because of religious convictions. And it asks a question the court has never confronted: whether the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that protects an individual’s exercise of religion extends to secular, for-profit corporations and their owners (Barnes, 3/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Justices Tackle Health Law Birth Control Coverage
Supreme Court justices are weighing whether corporations have religious rights that exempt them from part of the new health care law that requires coverage of birth control for employees at no extra charge. The case being argued at the Supreme Court on Tuesday involves family-owned companies that provide health insurance to their employees, but object to covering certain methods of birth control that they say can work after conception, in violation of their religious beliefs (3/25).

Los Angeles Times: Religious Case At Supreme Court Could Affect Obamacare And Much More
A challenge to part of President Obama's healthcare law that hits the Supreme Court on Tuesday could lead to one of the most significant religious freedom rulings in the high court's history. … At issue in Tuesday's oral argument before the court is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide workers a health plan that covers the full range of contraceptives, including morning-after pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs (Savage, 3/24).

The New York Times: Ruling Could Have Reach Beyond Issue Of Contraception
The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that pits religious liberty against women’s rights. That issue is momentous enough. But it only begins to touch on the potential consequences of the court’s ruling in the case, notably for laws banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians (Liptak, 3/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Contraceptive Case Skews Ideological Lines On High Court
Tuesday's Supreme Court case over whether religious objections trump the federal health law's contraceptive requirements seems at first blush to be a typical conservative-liberal struggle over social policy. But behind the battle is an ideological role reversal: The legal doctrine conservatives are citing to limit government burdens on religious expression was written by the Supreme Court's liberal champion, the late Justice William Brennan. The jurist who rolled it back in the early 1990s was Justice Antonin Scalia, a contemporary conservative icon (Bravin, 3/24).

NPR: Hobby Lobby Contraceptive Case Goes Before Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in the latest challenge to the Obama health care overhaul. This time the issue is whether for-profit corporations, citing religious objections, may refuse to provide some, or potentially all, contraceptive services in health plans offered to employees. It is a case that touches lots of hot-button issues (Totenberg, 3/25).

Politico: Contraception Coverage Heads To SCOTUS
Obamacare goes back before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, in a closely watched challenge that mixes controversies over the health care law, contraception and religious freedom. The justices will hear two related cases seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that nearly all companies with more than 50 employees provide various forms of birth control in their employee health plans at no charge. The outcome won’t topple the whole health care law, but it could become a political thorn in the side of both parties before the November midterm elections (Haberkorn, 3/25).

CBS News: Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Case Revisits Divisive Political Issues
Some of the most politically divisive themes and issues of the 2012 election --Obamacare, the left's "war on religion," the right's "war on women," and the notion of corporate personhood -- all come into play in two cases that will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Two privately-held, for-profit companies -- Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. -- are suing the United States government over a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires large employers to offer their workers comprehensive health coverage, including contraception, or pay a fine. Hobby Lobby's owners, David and Barbara Green of Oklahoma, say they have strong objections based in their Christian faith to providing health care coverage for certain types of contraception. The Pennsylvania-based Hahn family, the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, have the same complaint (Condon, 3/25).

Fox News: Supreme Court To Take Up ObamaCare Contraceptive Mandate In Landmark Case
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a landmark religion-based legal challenge from family-owned companies that object to covering certain contraceptives in their health plans under ObamaCare. The case challenges the health care law's so-called "contraceptive mandate," which requires employers to offer health plans with a range of services at no extra charge, including all forms of birth control for women that have been approved by federal regulators. Some of the nearly 50 businesses that have sued over covering contraceptives object to paying for all forms of birth control. But the companies involved in the high court case are willing to cover most methods of contraception, as long as they can exclude drugs or devices that the government says may work after an egg has been fertilized (3/25).

Earlier, related KHN coverage: Justices To Weigh Contraceptive Mandate Against Religious Freedom Claims (Taylor, 3/20).


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