KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Supreme Court May Hear Challenge To Obamacare’s Contraception Rules

Some companies object to the health law's requirement that contraception services for women be provided free as part of a preventive care package.

Los Angeles Times: High Court May Take Up Religious Challenge To Birth Control Coverage
The Obama administration set the stage Thursday for another Supreme Court showdown on the president's healthcare law, this time to decide whether for-profit companies can be forced to provide full contraceptive coverage for their employees despite religious objections from their owners. The administration's lawyers asked the justices to take up the issue this fall to decide whether these corporations can claim a religious exemption to this part of the healthcare law (Savage, 9/19).

Reuters: Obama Asks High Court To Review Contraception Mandate Ruling
The administration wants the high court to reverse a June decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver favoring arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. That decision said for-profit companies can sometimes assert religious rights if they do not wish to comply with a federal regulation (Hurley, 9/19).

The Associated Press: US Wants Supreme Court To Take Up Hobby Lobby Case
U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton in July granted the Hobby Lobby craft store chain and Mardel, its sister company, a temporary exemption from a requirement that it provide insurance coverage for morning-after pills, similar emergency birth control methods and intrauterine devices. Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed a notice in federal court this week saying it would appeal. Heaton had given the government an Oct. 1 deadline (9/19).

Politico: DOJ To SCOTUS: Settle The Contraception Fight, Already
The company is “presently coerced to provide these items or else devastate its employees by dropping their families’ insurance coverage altogether.” But the Obama administration and its allies argue that store owners cannot dictate religious beliefs upon their employees (Haberkorn, 9/20).

In related news, lawyers for another company asked the Supreme Court to hear its challenge to the contraception coverage requirement, while Indian Health Services expands access to emergency contraception --

The Wall Street Journal: High Court Asked To Hear Health-Law Challenge
Lawyers for one of the businesses challenging the federal health law’s contraception coverage requirements asked the Supreme Court to hear their case Thursday, in the first of dozens of religious lawsuits against the provision to reach the top court. Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious legal-rights group, filed a petition on behalf of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a cabinet part manufacturer owned by a Mennonite Christian family (Radnofsky, 9/19).

Earlier, related KHN coverage: A Guide To The Lawsuits Challenging Obamacare’s Contraception Coverage Requirements (Miller, 9/17).

The Associated Press: IHS Expands Access To Plan B For Native Women
Native American women seeking emergency contraception at Indian Health Services facilities managed by the federal government now can get it without a consultation or prescription. The agency had come under fire from women's health advocates who said it needed to make the morning-after pill more accessible to American Indian and Alaska Native women. IHS has no retail pharmacies, and critics said Native women faced long wait times for Plan B because they had to compete with all the other patients seeking emergency care at clinics, urgent care centers or at emergency rooms (Fonseca, 9/19).

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