HHS Issues Two Final Rules Addressing Conscience Rights in Health Insurance
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, in conjunction with the Treasury and Labor Departments, has released two final rules to provide conscience protections for Americans who have a religious or moral objection to health insurance that covers contraception methods.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employer-provided health insurance plans are required to cover certain preventative services, which were defined through guidance by the Obama Administration as including all contraception methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including methods viewed by many as abortifacients, and sterilization procedures.
In October 2017, the Trump Administration issued two interim final rules providing exemptions to this ACA requirement. Those interim final rules have now been published in their final form:
- The first final rule provides an exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate to entities that object to services covered by the mandate on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.
- The second final rule provides protections to nonprofit organizations and small businesses that have non-religious moral convictions opposing services covered by the mandate.
The religious and moral exemptions provided by these rules also apply to institutions of education, issuers, and individuals. The Departments are not extending the moral exemption to publicly traded businesses, or either exemption to government entities.
According to HHS, these regulations do not ban any drugs or devices or prohibit any employer from covering contraceptives. Further, HHS estimates the exemptions should affect no more than approximately 200 employers with religious or moral objections.
The rules take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register. Follow the link below for additional information.
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