New Year Brings Expiration of Contraception Mandate Safe Harbor
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is probably best known for two things at this juncture: the website and the so-called “contraception cases.” In between the enrollment push and the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases at the Supreme Court, it can be easy to forget about the other moving parts. At the beginning of the new year, a significant component of the contraception mandate will take effect, ending what is called the “safe harbor.”
On January 1st, religious non-profits will start their accommodation under the HHS rule; employees of self-certified religious non-profit organizations (that are neither houses of worship nor pervasively sectarian as these institutions are exempted) will be able to access contraception health care coverage from a third party insurer. Accommodated organizations are not involved in the process insuring contraception: it is uniquely between the employee and the insurer.
During the process of creating the Health and Human Services rules regarding the contraception mandate, RAC Director Rabbi David Saperstein submitted comments in support of the mandate. When the final rule was released over the summer, the Reform Movement welcomed the decision, which aims at an appropriate balance between religious liberty and the importance of access to contraception and of reproductive rights. The Public Religion Research Institute did a survey in 2012 on religious liberty and the contraception mandate, and found that a slim majority of Americans believe that religiously-affiliated non-profits should be required to cover contraception. Click here for full results of the survey.
The Reform Movement has long been in support of reproductive rights. As people of faith who strongly defend the importance of access to contraception, the beginning of 2014 signals a new opportunity for women to gain coverage under a health care plan.