The Supreme Court is set to decide whether to strike a controversial provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires most employers who provide health insurance to include contraceptive coverage.
The high court announced on Nov. 26 that it has granted writs of certiorari for two cases related to the ACA’s contraception requirement. The court will likely hear oral arguments in the spring of 2014.
The justices will consider arguments related to Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, which contend that the controversial ACA provision violates the constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by requiring business owners to provide contraception coverage in violation of their own religious beliefs.
According to a statement from the White House, "earlier this year, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to consider a legal challenge to the health care law’s requirement that for-profit corporations include birth control coverage in insurance available to their employees. We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women’s health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree."
In rules from the Health and Human Services department, the administration exempted churches and other religious institutions from the coverage requirement.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reiterated its support of the ACA’s contraception coverage requirement following the Supreme Court’s announcement.
"A woman’s insurance coverage for contraception or other health care should not be determined by the personal or religious beliefs of the company’s owners," according to a statement from the college. "Decisions about medical care should be solely between a woman and her physician, with no involvement from her boss."
But antiabortion groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the cases, calling this a "fundamental freedom of religion and conscience" issue.
Under the ACA, health plans are required to cover a range of preventive services for women at no cost to patients, including all Food and Drug Administration–approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women of reproductive age.
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