The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover "preventive services" at no cost to participants. The federal government has identified 20 forms of contraception that are required to be included as part of preventive services. Various "for-profit" companies have challenged ACA's birth control coverage requirement in about 50 lawsuits now pending across the country. Many of these employers are family owned, closely held or controlled companies whose owners object to the provision of contraceptive coverage on faith-based grounds.
The Supreme Court agreed on November 26, 2013 to hear the religious challenges of Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. to the contraceptive coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act. While not on the Supreme Court website calendar yet, the latest information indicates the cases will be heard in March. The Court has consolidated the two cases and scheduled only one hour of argument for both cases.
As discussed in an earlier blog post, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") created a controversy about whether for-profit corporations have religious freedom. The issue concerns the requirement under ACA that health insurance sufficient to avoid penalties must include coverage for certain forms of birth control. Businesses closely held by families with strong religious convictions are objecting to this requirement as an infringement of religious freedom.
A provision under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has raised the question of whether for-profit corporations have religious freedom. The ACA through guidelines from the Health Resources and Services Administration requires that non-grandfathered group health plans and individual health insurance cover, without cost to the individual, all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The FDA-approved methods include contraception known as the "morning-after pill" and the "week-after pill", which the FDA has acknowledged can terminate pregnancy after conception. While exemptions for contraception coverage have been made for religious non-profit corporations, no exemptions are available to for-profit corporations.