The Regulation that Requires Insurers to Cover Birth Control Remains, but Some States are Taking Positive Action Just in Case
ObamaCare mandated contraception coverage, and an HHS ruled confirmed it for most employers, but many states are trying to shore up or expand access to birth control just in case things change.
However, with Trump’s team heading HHS, a few things are subject to change. Right now some states are taking action to protect women’s health services, while others seem to be moving in the other direction.
To get the full story, we have to cover a few details. Consider the following points.
- The ACA required all major medical health plans that counted as Minimum Essential Coverage, including employer plans, to provide free contraceptive services (see the details).
- There were some groups exempted, such as faith groups directly involved in religious ministry (such as houses of worship).
- However, religiously affiliated nonprofits (such as hospitals, universities, and charities), and for-profit businesses like Hobby Lobby were not.
- Some court cases tried to overturn this rule, and the final result was an Obama administration Federal rule that offered a workaround. Employers could apply not to offer key services (like IUDs), but HHS would coordinate a standalone plan so the employee would have the same rights as an employee who didn’t work for that employer.
- Now, with Trump’s administration in charge of HHS, things could be changing federally, and this could make it either easier or harder for states to expand or restrict birth control coverage and funding to institutions which provide it at a state level.
TIP: See 5 questions about the contraception mandate for more on the employer end of things.
This matters today is because:
- Tom Price is in charge of HHS, which enforces the rulings on the provision of contraception. Rules like this are on thin ice if they are not enforced.
- Some health care experts are concerned that birth control access may be shrinking in a handful of states that have moved to restrict government funding for family planning providers that also offer abortion services. Providers like Planned Parenthood and other such entities are in jeopardy.
- Some states are taking action now to secure the first two points, while other states seem to be heading in the other direction.
Some states are using state laws to help ensure free contraception for all women, even if federal rules change. Meanwhile, other states continue to restrict funding for entities that offer specific types of contraception.
The above are the basics. We expect that the provision of women’s healthcare will become increasingly state-centered and complicated.
If you want a more robust version of this story with some great links, please check out Five Thirty Eight’s “Some States Are Making It Easier To Get Birth Control With or without a federal mandate.”