Hobby Lobby employees may not have to pay for their birth control after all, thanks to a planned tweak to Obamacare’s contraception-coverage requirements.
The White House is expected to roll out proposed changes to the health law’s rules on Friday in a compromise meant to accommodate the religious objections of family-owned corporations, such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, who have refused to cover their employees’ contraception needs on moral grounds, while at the same time maintaining the coverage for women, according to several reports.
Under the accommodation, employers with a moral objection to folding birth control into their workers’ insurance coverage would be able to submit their objections in writing to the government, which would then take the step of notifying those companies’ health plans and the insurer would foot the bill for the coverage.
Previously, the Obama administration had only been willing to extend an accommodation to religious non-profits, but it will now offer a compromise to closely-held, for-profit companies as well. The changes to be announced Friday also eliminate a requirement that employers inform their own insurer of their objection to covering birth control, as employers are now able to simply pass their objections to the government, which will take over from there.
The proposed rule changes, which The Wall Street Journal reports will be announced later today, come in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in June that any government attempt to force companies like arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby to provide their employees with insurance coverage for birth control would be a violation of those companies’ federally-protected religious freedom.
The White House has been looking for a suitable workaround since the Supreme Court decision and the Justice Department even filed a general outline of Friday’s plan with an appeals court last month. The Obama administration has said that the cost of covering birth control is eventually offset by savings from improved health as well as avoiding the cost of pregnancies.