Trump administration weakens Obamacare birth control coverage mandate

CNN —  

The Trump administration issued two final rules on Wednesday providing employers more flexibility with exemptions to deny women insurance coverage for birth control.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employer-provided health insurance plans are required to cover birth control as a preventive service.

Now, the US Department of Health and Human Services has issued a final rule providing exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate to entities that object to such coverage based on religious beliefs. The second final rule provides exemption to nonprofit organizations and small businesses that may have non-religious moral convictions to such coverage.

These rules finalize interim rules that were issued last year and take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register, according to the agency.

“The religious and moral exemptions provided by these rules also apply to institutions of education, issuers, and individuals. The Departments are not extending the moral exemption to publicly traded businesses, or either exemption to government entities,” the agency said in a news release Wednesday.

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the nonprofit National Women’s Law Center, issued a statement Wednesday in response to the Trump administration finalizing the birth control rules.

“The Trump Administration decided to finalize these outrageous rules, despite several pending lawsuits and two federal courts blocking them,” Graves said.

“It’s clear that this Administration will stop at nothing to attack women’s health care. By taking away access to no-cost birth control coverage, these rules try to give a license to virtually any employer, university, or health insurance provider to discriminate,” she said. “But if the Administration thinks it can move these rules forward without a fight, they’re wrong. Countless women depend on this critical birth control coverage for their health and economic stability – and we will continue to fiercely defend them.”