Fourteen Republican members of the House of Representatives reintroduced a bill on Tuesday that would exempt unwilling employers from a requirement that their employee health insurance plans include contraceptive coverage. They are also trying to get the language included in the Continuing Resolution to extend funding for operation of the federal government. The bill’s cosponsors said in a letter, “Nothing short of a full exemption for both nonprofit and for-profit entities will satisfy the demands of the Constitution and common sense.”
A broad coalition of women’s groups led by Planned Parenthood released their own letter (see PDF) in response to the move. The letter concluded, “Including language in a continuing resolution or omnibus appropriations measure to restrict women’s access to birth control would be bad policy and is contrary to our shared goals of improving women’s health. We respectfully urge you to reject efforts to politicize the appropriations process for the remainder of fiscal year 2013 and oppose riders that are harmful to women’s health.”
The Department of Health and Human Services released proposed rules in January to operationalize that health insurance coverage under the ACA must provide birth control without co-pays or deductibles. Under the proposed rules, employees who work at religiously affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities/colleges will be covered seamlessly by the insurance provider or plan administrator. The sole exception within the proposed rules is narrowly construed to only houses of worship that object and can deny coverage to their employees.