Republican senators may have failed in their recent attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but at least one component of the sweeping Obama-era healthcare bill is still in jeopardy. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, the Trump Administration is finalizing plans to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s mandate which requires businesses to provide free contraceptive coverage to their employees.
Religious groups are currently exempt from the mandate, but the new rule would expand this exemption to non-profits and for-profit businesses that take issue with the mandate as well.
In effect, it would eliminate the mandate’s power to ensure employers provide their workers with access to free birth control. But because the new rule would affect only female employees, it’s expected to face intense legal opposition from civil rights groups.
“This raises a couple of constitutional issues, including sex discrimination, because they’re singling out care that only women need, said attorney Brigitte Amiri of the ACLU in an interview. “They are not targeting other kinds of preventative care, and they’re taking away a benefit that’s otherwise guaranteed by law.”
Civil rights lawyers have also argued that the new rule could violate the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which guarantees the separation of church and state.
It’s important to note that the Affordable Care Act guarantees free access to a number of other preventative care services as well, but only the contraceptive mandate has been specifically targeted by the Trump Administration.
Fortunately for women in New York, the state government has announced that it will continue to require insurance companies to provide free birth control coverage, regardless of the regulatory changes in Washington. In other states, however, the mandate’s rollback could curtail women’s access to a variety of contraceptive options.