What Today’s #SupremeCourt #Obamacare #BirthControl Order Means

The Dangerous Consequences that could be Down the Road

The Supreme Court issued an order today in a case involving the Affordable Care Act’s birth control policy. Here’s what it means:

Because the Affordable Care Act policy already strikes the right balance between healthcare access and religious liberty, the group that filed this lawsuit wasn’t going to be required to provide insurance coverage of birth control anyway. They were already exempt because of the type of religious group that they are and the way they provide insurance. The Court’s order doesn’t actually change anything about that, and doesn’t change the policy for any other employers.

Just as the Affordable Care Act policy already said, this group merely has to tell the government in writing that they don’t want to provide birth control coverage on their insurance. The only change is that they don’t have to use the government’s form to do it. They can write it on their own piece of paper and give it directly to the government, not their insurance provider. That’s what they were arguing burdened religious liberty, filling out the form and handing it over.

If that seems like a very minor change to be filing a Supreme Court case about, that’s because it is, but in the long-run, these cases could have very large, very harmful consequences for not only birth control access, but all healthcare, employee protections, and the long-standing concept of religious liberty in our country. Here’s my earlier piece explaining how:https://medium.com/public-health/f482fc101167

Here’s the text of the order:

“The application for an injunction having been submitted to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court, the Court orders: If the employer applicants inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the respondents are enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. To meet the condition for injunction pending appeal, applicants need not use the form prescribed by the Government and need not send copies to third-party administrators. The Court issues this order based on all of the circumstances of the case, and this order should not be construed as an expression of the Court’s views on the merits.”

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