The Obama administration has issued a new set of rules to provide contraceptive access to women whose employers object to their insurance plans covering birth control, which is required under the Affordable Care Act.In addition, the rules provide a mechanism to protect contraception coverage while simultaneously allowing institutions like Wheaton College to opt-out of a process that they believe forces them to provide birth control coverage.
The new policies are intended to fill gaps left by two Supreme Court moves: The landmark Hobby Lobby decision saying contraceptive coverage violated the religious liberty of a for-profit corporation, and a preliminary order in Wheaton College v. Burwell. With today’s regulations, employees of for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby will be able to access an “accommodation” where the insurer directly provides the cost-free coverage with no financial involvement by the employer. That accommodation was originally limited to religiously affiliated nonprofits like Little Sisters of the Poor; houses of worship are fully exempt.
If the new rules work as intended, the net result will be that despite a pair of court "victories," opponents of providing birth control coverage in health insurance policies won't get anything for their efforts, which is exactly how this story should end.