Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 14, 2015

White House Offers Contraception Rule; Senate Democrats Eye a September Vote on Contraception Coverage

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.

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