Another ACA con­tra­cep­tion case may be headed to Supreme Court

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS - —Lisa Schencker

A fed­eral ap­peals court last week sided for the first time against the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy in­tended to en­sure that em­ploy­ees of not-for­profit re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions can get birth con­trol at no cost.

The case is one of many chal­leng­ing parts of the Af­ford­able Care Act’s man­date that fe­male con­tra­cep­tion be con­sid­ered a pre­ven­tive healthcare ser­vice cov­ered at no out-of-pocket cost.

The U.S. Supreme Court has al­ready granted stays in a num­ber of the con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age cases that have come out of the cir­cuit courts, tem­po­rar­ily halt­ing the gov­ern­ment from en­forc­ing the man­date.

The White House has said not-for­profit re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions could in­stead sub­mit a form to their third­party ad­min­is­tra­tor or pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to HHS so the gov­ern­ment could ar­range con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age for their em­ploy­ees.

Many re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions, how­ever, ar­gue that would still vi­o­late their be­liefs.

Judge Roger Woll­man of the 8th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals, writ­ing for the panel, said the man­date “is a sub­stan­tial bur­den” on the re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Seven other cir­cuit courts have ruled in sim­i­lar cases, but all of them have sided with the gov­ern­ment.

“Even though it’s 7-to-1, it be­comes nearly cer­tain that the Supreme Court will take one of these cases,” said Dou­glas Lay­cock, a law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia.

The plain­tiffs in the other cases have al­ready pe­ti­tioned the Supreme Court for re­view.

The court’s next term be­gins in Oc­to­ber, at which point the jus­tices will meet in con­fer­ence be­hind closed doors to de­cide which cases to hear. Only four of the nine jus­tices must vote to hear a case in or­der for the court to take it.

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