Hill Democrats furious with changes to Obamacare birth control mandate

Hill Democrats furious with changes to Obamacare birth control mandate

Hill Democrats furious with changes to Obamacare birth control mandate

"I think what the Trump administration is trying to do is effectively gut the rule without repealing it, because repealing it would be so unpopular", Gretchen Borchelt, of the National Women's Law Center, told the Huffington Post.

The Trump administration on Friday announced a major rollback of the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate, granting what officials called "full protection" to a wide range of companies and organizations that claim a "religious or moral objection" to providing the coverage.

In the new rules, the Trump administration says the Affordable Care Act does not explicitly require coverage of contraceptives. "No matter where they work, women need and deserve birth control access".

Under an accommodation offered by Obama's HHS, employers with religious objections would notify the government about their objection, and the government then would seek to get the coverage for the affected women through through a third party administrator. The agency is issuing guidelines for insurers that specify they have to charge women who want abortion coverage at least $12 a year for that coverage.

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A principal author of the rules, Matthew Bowman, a top lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services, represented March for Life in 2014 when he was a lawyer at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group.

"We should have space for organisations to live out their religious ideas and not face discrimination because of their religious ideas", said one HHS official, who did not wish to be named. "Never, ever", President Donald Trump said at the time.

National Women's Law Center president and CEO Fatima Goss Graves added in a press release, "Today's outrageous rules by the Trump Administration show callous disregard for women's rights, health, and autonomy".

Another regulation offers a new exemption to employers that have "moral convictions" against covering contraceptives. In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services mandated that cost-free coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacient drugs be included in health plans.

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Trump has long spoken about his plans to fight the Obama-era requirement that, according to Planned Parenthood, has helped 55 million women, including 17 million Latinas and 15 million African-Americans, gain access to birth control without copay. "Birth control is the key to our ability to stay healthy, take care of our planned families, and contribute to our communities and society - all things that this GOP apparently stands in opposition to".

Experts have pointed out that many women use birth control methods for more than pregnancy prevention, including treatment of hormonal imbalances and endometriosis.

Dr. Anne Davis, Consulting Medical Director of Physicians for Reproductive Health, strongly condemned the rules in a statement shared with POPSUGAR. "Reducing access to contraceptive coverage threatens to reverse the tremendous progress our nation has made in recent years in lowering the unintended pregnancy rate". "The rights of LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities, nontheists and others hang in the balance as the Trump administration continues to toe the line for its fundamentalist base".

The conflict, of course, is that the rule forces religious employers who may find birth control - or just certain forms of it - morally objectionnable to pay for insurance coverage for it.

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HHS is basing the change on new guidance Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Justice Department issued Friday, CBS News' Paula Reid reports.

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