KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Senate Democrats Fail To Reverse Hobby Lobby Decision

The bill, which would have restored employers' mandate to provide birth control to women, did not garner the necessary 60 votes. Republicans argued Democrats were using the issue to gain advantages in the midterm campaign.

NPR: The Two Way: Democratic Effort To Override Hobby Lobby Ruling Fails
A Democratic effort to override the Supreme Court's recent ruling on contraceptive coverage failed in the Senate on Wednesday. Bill sponsors fell four votes short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the measure (Greenblatt, 7/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Bill To Nullify Hobby Lobby Decision Fails
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked Democrats' effort to undermine the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, ending a round of partisan jousting aimed at capturing women's votes in the fall. A bill from Senate Democrats designed to restore employers' responsibility to provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act was defeated 56-43 on a procedural vote. It sought to prevent companies from using a religious-freedom law to avoid complying with a requirement to cover all forms of contraception approved by the government without charging workers a copayment (Peterson, 7/16).

The Associated Press: Dems Seek Gains With Women In Birth Control Loss
Republicans blocked a bill that was designed to override a Supreme Court ruling and ensure access to contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies with religious objections. The vote was 56-43 to move ahead on the legislation — dubbed the "Not My Boss' Business Act" by proponents — four short of the 60 necessary to proceed. But Democrats hope the issue has enough life to energize female voters in the fall, when Republicans are threatening to take control of the Senate. GOP senators said Wednesday's vote was simply a stunt, political messaging designed to boost vulnerable Democratic incumbents. The GOP needs to gain six seats to seize control (Cassata, 7/16).

USA Today: Senate GOP Blocks Bill To Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling
The Senate on Wednesday torpedoed a Democratic plan to reverse a recent Supreme Court ruling allowing some employers to decline to provide employees insurance coverage for some forms of birth control on religious grounds. The bill failed to get 60 votes needed to cross a procedural hurdle, as Republicans were largely united against it. Three Republican senators voted for the bill: Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. The bill had no hope of passage in the Republican-controlled House; Democrats tried and failed to force a vote in the House on a similar bill Tuesday (Singer and Dekimpe, 7/16).

Politico: Democratic Bid To Reverse Hobby Lobby Fails
A Democratic bill to reverse the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision narrowly failed in the Senate on Wednesday, but it sparked more contentious debate over contraception and religious freedom that both sides hope will mobilize their voters in November. The bill in effect says a 1993 religious freedom law at the heart of the Hobby Lobby case doesn't apply to legally required health benefits. The Supreme Court had cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in ruling that certain for-profit businesses can on religious grounds be exempted from the Obamacare requirement that the health plans they offer workers include FDA-approved birth control with no co-pays (Winfield Cunningham, 7/16).

Bloomberg: Birth Control Insurance Bill Rejected In U.S. Senate
Three Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mark Kirk of Illinois, joined Democrats in voting to advance the measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, voted no to preserve his ability to bring the bill up again. "We are going to vote again on this issue before this year is out," Reid said at a news conference after the vote (Hunter, 7/16).

Reuters: U.S. Senate Dems Hobby Lobby Bill Fails To Move Forward
Senate Republicans have announced their own post-Hobby Lobby bill to ensure employers could not block their employees from obtaining birth control. Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Orrin Hatch of Utah said before Wednesday's vote that the Hobby Lobby ruling was about constitutional religious freedoms, not women's rights. Hatch told Reuters he was not worried the bill would persuade women to vote for Democrats in November (McGinnis and Stephenson, 7/16).

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