Gov't: Religious Schools, Hospitals Still Have to Cover Birth Control

Rules for nonprofit, religiously affiliated institutions finalized; for-profit businesses hit back

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 29, 2013 2:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – Religious leaders may not like it, but the Obama administration is going ahead with its plan to require religiously-affiliated nonprofits like schools and hospitals to provide employees with insurance coverage for birth control, the New York Times reports. The Washington Post breaks down the final, slightly convoluted regulations on how it will work: The objecting organization lets its insurance provider know it won't be covering contraception; the insurer notifies employees; the insurer then covers contraceptive costs without using any premium dollars from the employer; at the end of the year, the insurer tells the government how much it spent on the contraceptives; the government pays it back plus some additional administrative costs; the government also gives the insurer a discount on ObamaCare exchange fees.

But for-profit companies don't have the option of this exemption, and will still be required to provide coverage for contraception regardless of religious beliefs. This could prove problematic. On Thursday, a federal appeals court granted Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain with religious owners who don't want to give their employees coverage for some forms of birth control, a hearing for an injunction against the mandate, and ruled that it will not have to pay fines for failing to provide the coverage while it awaits the court date next month, the AP reports. The judge warned that companies like Hobby Lobby are likely to win—comparing the case to a kosher butcher not willing to employ non-kosher practices—and urged he government to come up with a solution before more companies take the fight to court.

  (Shutterstock)
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