Last week, the 8th Circuit Court dared to be different. It decided to look at what all the other circuit courts are doing and run the other direction. The problem is individuality makes for great fashion choices, not great legal reasoning. The 8th Circuit issued a decision in one of the many cases challenging the accommodation in the birth control coverage benefit. And the result denies women health care protections that have been safeguarded in every other circuit court decision in this line of cases. Now, some religiously-affiliated employers have the ability to take important health care decisions out of their employees’ hands.
On Monday, a federal district court judge issued a decision in March for Life, a case brought by a non-profit organization challenging the ACA’s birth control benefit. In that decision, the judge said that if some employees insist they don’t want a health insurance plan that includes birth control coverage, then the employer doesn’t have to cover birth control for any employee. Despite the fact that other employees have a right under federal law to birth control coverage and may need it to protect against unplanned pregnancy or for other health reasons, apparently, that right can be ignored. This outrageous decision could open up a can of worms.
Two is company, three is a crowd, and four, well, four is great news for the birth control coverage requirement. On Monday, the Fifth Circuit became the fourth appeals court to reject non-profits’ challenges to the accommodation in the birth control requirement of the Affordable Care Act.
What the Accommodation Is
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a provision that requires insurance plans to cover birth control alongside a range of other preventive services, without co-payments or deductibles. The accommodation allows a non-profit organization with religious objections to birth control to exclude it from its insurance plan. The non-profit must notify its insurance plan or the federal government of its objections, so that women who work for objecting employers get birth control coverage directly from the insurance company. Read more »
I’ve had some unpleasant experiences trying to pick up prescriptions. I arrive at my local pharmacy, full of hope that I won’t have to wait long because I called in my prescription a few hours ago. Then I see the line and all the people in the waiting area and my heart drops. Various thoughts go through my head: Should I come back later? Should I wait it out? Will I be late to my other appointments? What will happen if I miss a dose? Recently, D.C. took a step forward to help women avoid these questions and uncertainty when it comes to their birth control. The D.C. Council passed a bill that would require insurance plans and the District’s Medicaid program to allow women to access a twelve month supply of birth control at one time.
Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court decided the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized access to and use of birth control. Whether you’re part of the 99% of women who use birth control at some point in their lives or not, Griswold has had an impact your life. Griswold was the foundation for many of the rights that shape our lives today, like the right to determine if and when to have children, the right to determine how to raise your children, and the right to have intimate relationships with whomever you love. Read more »
Growing up, I was not fond of my middle name. Griswold isn’t exactly every eight-year-old’s dream middle name. I tried to avoid anything with monogrammed initials for fear that someone would ask me what the G stood for. Grace served as a convenient substitute. Then I heard about Griswold v. Read more »
The House of Representatives and Senate are currently working on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill that provides funds for the military. The bill includes provisions that support the health care needs for members of the Armed Services and their dependents.
This year, the House and Senate versions of the bill include provisions that would improve women servicemembers’ access to birth control. It provides for comprehensive counseling and education about contraception. And, the House bill would ensure a woman servicemember has access to the birth control she needs at all times, particularly when she is deployed. Read more »