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Late last week, the White House released a revised rule for to allow religious employers to avoid directly covering some contraceptive methods, in response to the June 30 Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Coverage for birth control is one of a range of preventive health services that is required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Under the new plan detailed by CQ Roll Call’s Kerry Young, religious hospitals, schools and other organizations would simply notify the Health and Human Services Department of their objection, and the government would make arrangements for employees to get full contraceptive coverage without cost to their employers or themselves.
The Family Research Council immediately branded the HHS plan “an insulting accounting gimmick.”
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leaders are plotting a number of politically charged votes when Congress returns on Sept. 8. CQ Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski reported last month that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has included another vote on the health overhaul law’s contraception coverage requirement on the list of possible contentious Senate votes prior to the November elections.
Last month, the Senate failed to advance a bill (S 2578) seeking to overturn the court ruling. The measure would have required private employers with religious objections to pay for birth control services. Three GOP senators voted with nearly all Democrats, but the 56-43-vote tally failed to garner the necessary 60-votes to begin consideration of the bill.
The venerable Congressional Research Service, which advises Congress on a wide-range of major policy issues, recently issued a report for lawmakers on last month’s Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which struck down the health care overhaul law’s contraceptive services coverage requirements on “closely-held” companies.
Last week’s Senate vote on a measure intended to roll back the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision prompted new legislation seeking to secure access to contraceptive services from New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, plus a bill offered by Illinois Democrat Richard J. Durbin that would confirm recently announced Obama administration guidance on employee notification of omitted contraception coverage.
The Senate on Wednesday did not advance a predominantly Democratic-led measure that would roll back the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision on contraceptive services coverage for “closely held” companies. On Thursday, the administration quietly offered its own response through a joint agency update to a series of Department of Labor guidance notices on the ongoing implementation of the health care overhaul law.
The Senate this afternoon takes a high-profile procedural vote on a bill that would overturn the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision. Democrats are seeking to modify a religious non-discrimination law to eliminate the possibility of a “closely held” corporation denying contraceptive services coverage due to the religious beliefs of company owners. Republicans have readied an alternative measure that confirms employee access to contraceptives.
A group of congressional Democrats has unveiled dual measures to address last week’s Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores that the federal government cannot require “closely held” businesses with religious objections to provide free birth control coverage under the health care law.
The Supreme Court ended its current term on June 30 with a decision allowing a closely held for-profit company with strong religious beliefs to avoid the 2010 health care law’s contraceptive services coverage mandate. Controversy over the decision was riled by a separate injunction released by the court on July 3, which allows a Christian college in Illinois to also avoid the contraception mandate.