KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On Health Law’s Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

The justices accepted a pair of cases that raise questions not just about religious freedom and equality for female employees, but whether the religious beliefs of the owners of secular corporations allows them to not comply with a law.

The New York Times: Justices To Hear Contraception Cases Challenging Health Law
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a pair of cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their workers based on the religious beliefs of the corporations' owners. The cases present a new challenge to President Obama's health care law. The Supreme Court in 2012 upheld another part of the law, one that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. The Obama administration has exempted many religious groups from the law's requirements for contraception coverage. But it said that commercial corporations could not rely on religious objections to opt out of compliance with the law (Liptak, 11/26).

The Washington Post: Supreme Court To Review Contraceptive Coverage Mandate In Health-Care Law
The cases accepted by the court offer complex questions about religious freedom and equality for female workers, along with an issue the court has not yet confronted: whether secular, for-profit corporations are excepted by the Constitution or federal statute from complying with a law because of their owners' religious beliefs (Barnes, 11/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Justices To Decide On Companies' Religious Rights
The Supreme Court said it would decide whether businesses, like people, have a right to religious expression, in cases challenging the federal health law's mandate that employers provide contraceptive coverage to female employees. The high court upheld most of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act in a June 2012 decision. But lower courts have split since then on whether contraceptive coverage must be included in minimum benefits packages (Bravin, 11/26).

Politico: Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Cases On Contraceptive Mandate
The case could also rekindle the same clash that unfolded during the 2012 presidential campaign, when Republicans attempted to make the contraception rule an important issue. A ruling against the contraception coverage rule wouldn’t knock down the whole health law, but it would give more fuel to its opponents (Haberkorn, 11/27).

NPR: Supreme Court Takes Challenge To Obamacare Contraceptive Rule
In enacting the ACA, Congress required large employers who offer health care services to provide a range of preventive care, including no-copay contraceptive services. Religious nonprofits were exempted from this requirement, but not for-profit corporations. Some three dozen of these corporate entities challenged this requirement in court, contending the contraception mandate violates their religious rights. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to examine the issue, after lawyers on both sides asked for high court review (Totenberg, 11/26).

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court To Hear Cases On Obamacare And Birth Control 
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to jump into a growing legal dispute between the Obama administration and businesses run by conservative Christians over whether a company must pay for birth control drugs that conflict with its owner's religious beliefs (Savage, 11/26).

Reuters: Supreme Court To Hear Obamacare Contraception Cases
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to consider religious objections made by corporations to a provision of President Barack Obama's healthcare law that requires employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control. Oral arguments will likely be scheduled for March, with a ruling due by June, in what will be one of the most high-profile issues before the court this term (Hurley, 11/26).

The Associated Press: White House Welcomes Review Of Health Law Dispute
The White House is welcoming the Supreme Court's decision to referee another dispute over President Barack Obama's health care law. It involves a provision that requires most companies that offer health insurance to their workers to include contraception among a range of preventive health benefits (11/26).

The Hill: White House Faces Tough Supreme Court Fight On ObamaCare Mandate
The Obama administration faces a tough task in convincing the Supreme Court to rule in favor of ObamaCare's contraception mandate, according to legal experts. They say Chief Justice John Roberts's court, which upheld the health law in a landmark 2012 decision, has generally set a high bar for limiting religious rights (Hattem, 11/26).

Meanwhile, a labeling change to an emergency contraception pill by European health authorities may be relevant to the Supreme Court's consideration of the U.S. birth control coverage mandate --

The New York Times: New Birth Control Label Counters Lawsuit Claim
European health authorities have made two significant changes to the label of an emergency contraception pill that is equivalent to Plan B One-Step. One of the changes could be relevant to two cases that the Supreme Court added to its docket on Tuesday. The new label of the drug, Norlevo, says it “cannot stop a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb,” contradicting a claim by some abortion opponents that has fueled their objections to the Affordable Care Act (Belluck, 11/26).

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