Trump administration scraps ACA's birth control mandate

Conservatives & Trump Can Still Stop the Worst of Obamacare

Conservatives & Trump Can Still Stop the Worst of Obamacare

For the last six years, almost all employers have had no choice but to include birth control coverage in the health insurance plans they offer their employees.

"These rules will not affect over 99.9 percent of the 165 million women in the United States".

Policy experts, however, argue that this could open the door to hundreds of employers dropping coverage.

The rollback could happen as soon as Friday, according to The New York Times. Another rule permits opting out for "moral convictions".

In the new rules, the Trump administration says the Affordable Care Act does not explicitly require coverage of contraceptives. "We should have space for organizations to live out their religious identity and not face discrimination".

At a time when Trump finds himself embattled on many fronts, the two directives - issued nearly simultaneously on Friday - demonstrated the president's eagerness to retain the loyalty of social conservatives who make up a key part of his base.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Women's Law Center have been preparing for months to file suits against the administration's new regulations. The American Civil Liberties Union filed such a lawsuit less than three hours after the rules were issued. The religious exemption would cover a religious affiliated nonprofit employer, such as a church, school or charity.

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Trump could deliver the new rules as early as Friday and put in jeopardy the free and low-priced birth control afforded to over 55 million people in the US. "It prevents adolescent pregnancies".

The announcement wasn't a surprise, said Janet Varon executive director of Northwest Health Law Advocates.

"Contraception is a medical necessity for women during approximately 30 years of their lives", said Dr. Haywood Brown, president of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Since contraception became a covered preventive benefit, the share of women employees paying with their own money for birth control pills has plunged to 3 percent, from 21 percent, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation figures. The preventive health benefit saved women $1.4 billion on birth control in the first year it went into effect, which has contributed to an all-time low in unintended pregnancy and the lowest US abortion rate since the procedure became legal in 1973. Additionally, these new rules include an apparent admission of past wrongdoing by government officials, who say that the initial accommodations process violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Missouri Democratic Party chair Stephan Webber said, "Birth control is not controversial-it's something the vast majority of women will use during their lifetime. This administration is carrying out a full-scale attack on birth control", Richards said. The requirement to provide FDA-approved contraception at no cost was long opposed by religious groups that heavily favored Trump, and has been wrapped up in legal challenges for more than five years.

"By taking away women's access to no-cost birth control coverage, the rules give employers a license to discriminate against women", Graves added.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also released "interpretative guidance" Friday directing all federal agencies to comply with existing protections for religious liberty under federal law and Supreme Court precedent. It doesn't create or authorize the creation of any new protections.

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