New Action Follows Pattern of Trump Administration Attacks on Women’s Health
Washington – The Trump administration is implementing a regressive and discriminatory change to the Affordable Care Act’s provision that health insurance plans cover preventive services for women at no cost. Interim final rules issued today would allow almost any employer or educational institution to claim a religious or “moral” reason to discriminate against women by denying them birth control coverage.
The ACA requires most new health plans to cover preventive services for women, including all FDA-approved contraceptives and related services, with no out-of-pocket cost. The Obama administration’s implementing regulations included a narrow exemption for certain religious employers, such as churches, and also provided for additional entities’ religious beliefs to be accommodated while their employees would still have access to contraceptive services. The Trump administration is now broadening the exemption to allow more employers and universities to refuse to provide comprehensive birth control coverage to their employees and students.
National Health Law Program (NHeLP) Legal Director Jane Perkins said the Trump administration’s change the ACA’s birth control provision looks legally suspect.
“This is a sweeping regulatory exemption, and one that appears to be loosely tethered to the law,” Perkins said. “For example, what is the standard of morality that will be used to determine whether to grant a moral exemption? And where does the logic stop – will exemptions from childhood vaccines come next?” Perkins also questioned the process used by the administration to issue the rule. “This far-reaching change is effective now, without any opportunity for comment from the public.”
NHeLP Senior Attorney Catherine McKee, said, “The widening of this exemption is the Trump administration’s way of undermining the ACA’s policy on contraceptives. More than sixty-two million women now have coverage for preventive services. NHeLP supports and encourages them to continue to stand up and demand that their employers or schools provide comprehensive coverage.
“This move by the administration,” McKee continued, “also fits a troubling trend of trying to impede access to reproductive care for women, especially low-income women. For example, the administration has promoted measures to eliminate Planned Parenthood clinics from the Medicaid program, which would leave many low-income women with nowhere to go to obtain critical preventive care. Since day one, the administration has pushed for repeal of the ACA and to gut Medicaid funding, both of which would greatly harm access to health care for tens of millions of women hovering near or living in poverty.”
Please contact the NHeLP Communications department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-552-5176 for further comment regarding the Trump administration’s interim final rules on the ACA birth control provision.
NHeLP, founded in 1969, advocates for the rights of low-income and underserved people to access quality health care.