Biden Administration Seeks to End Moral Opt-Out of Contraceptive Mandate- Netchex

Facing a looming recession, rising healthcare costs, and growing worker dissatisfaction, the Biden Administration has ramped up efforts to lessen the impact of these issues in the new year. 

Last month, the FCC proposed a ban on Non-Compete Agreements. This month, they are seeking easier access birth control for women at no cost under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Seeking an end to Trump-era contraceptive mandate

In a joint statement from the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury, the Biden Administration issued a proposal to overturn the contentious rule allowing employers to opt out of providing coverage of contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act due to moral objections. 

The existing Trump-era regulation expanded to include effectively any employer with a religious or moral objection to opt out of contraceptive coverage. Opponents have long claimed that the rule’s “sincerely held religious beliefs” wording is too broad and open to interpretation.

The Biden administration said its proposal seeks:

“To further the government’s interest in promoting coverage for contraceptive services for all women, and in eliminating barriers to access, while respecting the religious objections of employers, health insurance issuers, and institutions of higher education to coverage of contraceptive services.”

READ: HR and Employer Considerations in a Post-Roe v. Wade Workplace

From contraceptive mandate to an independent pathway

The proposed rule would also establish an independent pathway for individuals enrolled in plans offered by employers with religious exemptions to access contraceptive services through a willing provider without charge.

Women using that pathway would obtain birth control from a participating provider, who then would be reimbursed by an insurer on the ACA exchanges. The insurer, in turn, would receive a credit on the user fee it pays the government.

Seeking middle ground from the contraceptive mandate

The administration crafted the proposed rule keeping in mind the concerns of employers with religious objections and the contraceptive needs of their workers.

“We had to really think through how to do this in the right way to satisfy both sides, but we think we found that way,” the official said, stressing that there should be no effect on religiously affiliated employers.

Senior HHS official to CNN

Stakeholders will be able to make public comments on the rule for 60 days. Officials expect thousands of public comments and “many months” before the rule could be finalized.

This is a developing story. Please check back with Netchex in the future for more information about the contraceptive mandate as it becomes available.

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