Tell the Federal Government: Enough Religious Accommodation in Women’s Health Care

October 20, 2014

The Department of Health and Human Services will soon make major decisions on granting further accommodations to employers who oppose contraceptive coverage on religious grounds. Lend your voice and tell them to favor women’s health care over more accommodations, which have already gone too far.

This summer, in response to a number of court cases, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new changes to the federal health care law requiring for-profit corporations and non-profit organizations to cover preventive health services such as contraception without charging a co-payment.

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held corporations were entitled to sue under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that the contraception mandate placed a “substantial burden” on their sincerely held religious beliefs against certain forms of contraception.

At the same time, religious non-profits are challenging the past accommodation provided by HHS, under which organizations are not required to involve themselves in the provision of preventive services they oppose on religious grounds, but instead are merely asked to send a form to their insurer, which would then provide the opposed services to those covered by the plan. The plaintiffs in these cases claim that sending this form to insurers violates their religious freedom.

HHS is requesting comments from the public on two issues.

  • First, it seeks input on how a closely held corporation should be defined, so that the Supreme Court’s finding in Hobby Lobby can be effectively implemented.
  • Second, it seeks input on what form of accommodation should be granted to religious non-profits, so that employees can still access preventive health care without a co-pay, but the claims of conscience by religious charities can be respected.

While CFI will file its own formal comments, HHS is allowing the public to comment on these two issues until Tuesday, October 21 and Monday, October 27, respectively. This means you can join CFI in voicing your opinion on these critically important health care guidelines.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION: 

1. Visit www.regulations.gov

2. Under “Enter Keyword or ID,” type the following codes:

For-profit guidelines (deadline Oct. 21): CMS-2014-0115-0002 

Non-profit guidelines (deadline Oct. 27): EBSA-2014-0013

3. Scroll to the top result and click on “Comment Now!”

4. Copy and paste the sample text below, or else write your own comments!

For-profit comments:

As a concerned citizen, I seek to comment on new proposals to amend the federal health care law requiring for-profit corporations and non-profit organizations, or else health insurance providers, to cover preventive health services, such as contraception, without charging a co-payment. I understand that the federal government must craft rules regarding the contraceptive mandate that comply with the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

In drawing its accommodations, I urge the government to be guided by the purpose behind the contraception mandate: to ensure women have complete access to preventive care, including contraception, without co-pay. As any accommodations place an increased burden on women who have a right under the Affordable Care Act to quality, affordable preventive care, accommodations must be limited to the greatest possible extent permissible by law. In regards to for-profit corporations, I request that HHS crafts its rule to limit the definition of closely held corporations to small companies where the ownership is restricted to a limited group of individuals who actively participate in the management of the day-to-day operations of the corporation. Thank you for considering my comments.

Non-profit comments:

As a concerned citizen, I seek to comment on new proposals to amend the federal health care law requiring for-profit corporations and non-profit organizations, or else health insurance providers, to cover preventive health services, such as contraception, without charging a co-payment. I understand that the federal government is crafting rules regarding the contraceptive mandate that provide relief to non-profit organization with religious objections to coverage of contraception. 

In drawing its accommodations, I urge the government to be guided by the purpose behind the contraception mandate: to ensure women have complete access to preventive care, including contraception, without co-pay. As any accommodations place an increased burden on women who have a right under the Affordable Care Act to quality, affordable preventive care, accommodations must be limited to the greatest possible extent permissible by law. In regards to nonprofit organizations, I believe that the current self-certification system provides sufficient respect for the beliefs of religious charities that no further accommodation is either required or desirable. If adopted, however, the proposed amendment should be strictly applied to exempted nonprofits so that women are ensured full contraceptive coverage. Thank you for considering my comments.

 

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