U.S. Supreme Court Considers ACA Contraception Coverage Changes
Updated: Jun 8
By Leah Gonzalez
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that ensures contraceptive services, and all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, are available through employer-sponsored health plans at no cost to the client.
In October 2017, the administration issued two rules that allow broad exemptions for insurers and employers to claim a moral or religious objection to providing contraceptive coverage. A process already existed for employers who chose not to participate due to religious objection, but these new rules could vastly increase the number of employers able to opt out of covering contraceptive services.
During the comment period on the proposed changes, the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition (TWHC) submitted comments to the administration. At the same time, Pennsylvania and New Jersey sued the federal government, which led to a nationwide injunction that halted the implementation of the changes. During the interim, multiple intervention attempts were made, and in December 2019, the administration, along with the Little Sisters of the Poor – a Catholic religious institute for women – filed petitions to have the issue heard by the Supreme Court. By January 2020, the request was approved to move forward.
Oral arguments were taken by phone earlier this month, and a decision is expected by late June, but may be delayed. Though supporting and clarifying documents were submitted to the Court from national partners, and strong arguments were made, experts anticipate a ruling in favor of the administration. This would allow the October 2017 rules to go into effect, which puts contraceptive coverage that millions of women rely on – including over four million women in Texas who depend on the contraceptive coverage guarantee for no-cost birth control and contraceptive services – at risk.