SCOTUS Punts On Contraceptives Case

May 16, 2016

Credit US Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Supreme Court is charting a middle course on the issue of contraceptive coverage for employees of religious non-profits. 

The Affordable Care Act requires contraceptive coverage in employer-provided health plans.  Religious organizations can avoid that mandate by notifying the federal government—kicking off a convoluted process where the government informs the insurer they must provide coverage anyway. 

But some religious groups argue simple notification makes them complicit in providing the contraceptives they oppose. 

This argument succeeded at the district level, but the Circuit court disagreed.  The Supreme Court has now remanded the case asking for a compromise.  The end result will likely look very much the same: the ruling directs the lower courts to develop a plan where employees can get cost-free birth control—probably through their existing insurer, but the employer won’t have to issue a notification.