KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Court Decision Allows Some Employers To Bypass Contraceptive Mandate

The 5-4 ruling says some closely held corporations cannot be forced to provide services that are at odds with the owners' religious beliefs.

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Sides With Employers Over Birth Control Mandate
The Supreme Court struck down a key part of President Obama's health-care law Monday, ruling that family-owned businesses do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs. The decision deeply split the court, not only on its holding that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) protects some businesses from offering contraceptive coverage but also on how broadly the ruling will apply to other challenges in which businesses say laws impose on their religious beliefs (Barnes, 6/30). 

The New York Times: Supreme Court Rejects Contraceptives Mandate For Some Corporations
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. It was, a dissent said, "a decision of startling breadth." The 5-to-4 ruling, which applied to two companies owned by Christian families, opened the door to many challenges from corporations over laws that they claim violate their religious liberty (Liptak, 6/30).

The New York Times: Between The Lines Of The Contraception Decision
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the court, declared that family-owned corporations like Hobby Lobby cannot be forced to pay for insurance coverage for contraception for employees over their religious objections. The ruling means that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 applies to corporations, that the contraception requirement placed a substantial burden on companies like Hobby Lobby, and that the government has not chosen the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest — the most demanding test in constitutional law (Schwartz, 6/30). 

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Makes Religious Exception To Health-Care Law
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that "closely held" companies can invoke religious objections to avoid covering contraception in workers' health plans, carving out another piece of the Affordable Care Act. Breaking 5-4 along the justices' conservative-liberal divide, the final decision of the court's term extended the religious protections enjoyed by people and churches to certain employers, in one of the most important rulings on religion in years (Bravin, 6/30). 

NPR: High Court Allows Some Companies To Opt Out Of Contraceptives Mandate
For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a for-profit corporation can refuse to comply with a general government mandate because doing so would violate the corporation's asserted religious beliefs. By a 5-4 vote, the court struck an important part of President Obama's health care law — the requirement that all insurance plans cover birth control — because it conflicted with a corporation owners' religious beliefs (Totenberg, 6/30). 

USA Today: Justices Rule For Hobby Lobby On Contraception Mandate
The Supreme Court put freedom of religion above reproductive freedom Monday in the most closely watched case of its term, ruling that companies cannot be forced to offer insurance coverage for certain birth control methods they equate with abortion (Wolf, 6/30). 

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court, Citing Religious Liberty, Limits Contraceptive Coverage In Obamacare
The Supreme Court ruled for the first time Monday that private companies had a religious right to be exempted from federal law, saying a business owned by devout Christians may refuse to pay for insurance covering contraceptives for female employees. The 5-4 ruling was a victory for social conservatives and the high court's most significant statement on religious liberty in years (Savage, 6/30). 

Politico: SCOTUS Sides With Hobby Lobby On Birth Control
The ruling deals directly with only a small provision of Obamacare and will not take down the entire law but it amounts to a huge black eye for Obamacare, the administration and its backers. The justices have given Obamacare opponents their most significant political victory against the health care law, reinforcing their argument that the law and President Barack Obama are encroaching on Americans’ freedoms (Haberkorn and Gerstein, 6/30). 

Kaiser Health News: Supreme Court Limits Contraceptive Mandate For Certain Employers
A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that at least some for-profit corporations may not be required to provide contraceptives if doing so violates the owners’ religious beliefs. But the five-justice majority writing in Burwell v Hobby Lobby, et al., took pains to try to limit their ruling only to the contraceptive mandate in the health law and only to "closely held" corporations like the family-owned businesses represented by the plaintiffs in the case (Rovner, 6/30).  

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: High Court's Hobby Lobby Ruling Cuts Into Contraceptive Mandate
In a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court allowed a key exemption to the health law’s contraception coverage requirements when it ruled that closely held, for-profit businesses could assert a religious objection to the Obama administration’s regulations. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the case (Carey, 6/30). 

Associated Press: Court: Can't Make Employers Cover Contraception
The justices' 5-4 decision, splitting conservatives and liberals, means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under the health insurance plans of objecting companies. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion, over a dissent from the four liberal justices, that forcing companies to pay for methods of women's contraception to which they object violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He said the ruling is limited and there are ways for the administration to ensure women get the birth control they want (Sherman, 7/1). 

The Fiscal Times: SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Ruling Chips Away At Obamacare
The Supreme Court just dealt a blow to the White House by ruling that the Obamacare provision requiring employers to provide four forms of birth control as part of their health insurance plans violates the religious liberties of some small businesses. Those forms, including the morning after pill, are considered abortive by some religious groups (Ehley, 6/30).

CBS News: Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby Decision Could Impact Millions Of Women
The Supreme Court today upheld a challenge to a key provision of Obamacare -- the one that requires coverage for birth control. Many religiously affiliated employers were already exempt from the requirement. On Monday, the court said some for-profit companies don't have to pay for contraceptives either, if they object on religious grounds. The Supreme Court case was a political firestorm, pitting women's rights against religious freedom. Inside the court, the justices were also deeply divided and sharply at odds in their approach to the case (Crawford, 6/30).

Fox News: Supreme Court Rules ObamaCare Provision Can't Force Some Employers To Cover Contraception
The 5-4 decision, in favor of arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby and one other company, marks the first time the court has ruled that for-profit businesses can cite religious views under federal law. It also is a blow to a provision of the Affordable Care Act which President Obama's supporters touted heavily during the 2012 presidential campaign (6/30).

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