Supreme Court to Consider PPACA Contraceptive Mandate in March

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will consider a case challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provision commonly called the "contraception mandate" in March.

On March 25, the court will hear Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, one of many lawsuits filed challenging the birth control provision on the grounds that it violates religious freedom. The case involves the owners of a 500-store retail chain who have argued the mandate would require them to cover some contraceptive services for their employees that prevent not just fertilization but implantation, which the company equates with abortion.

Under the PPACA, all group health plans and health insurance issuers must provide, without cost-sharing, reproductive preventive care including all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and services, as well as patient education and counseling. The provision has faced numerous court challenges on religious grounds.

Hobby Lobby is one of two cases the Supreme Court has agreed to hear concerning the mandate. The second was filed by Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., which manufactures wood cabinets and has raised similar objections to the mandate.

The mandate was due to take effect Jan. 1. However, last week, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary block on the mandate's enforcement at the request of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns that runs nursing homes for low-income people. The block on the contraception mandate applies to the nuns and other Roman Catholic nonprofit groups that use the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust health plan.

The Obama administration has said women employed by certain nonprofit religious groups like the Little Sisters can receive separate insurance coverage that employers don't pay for. However, the Little Sisters have objected to this accommodation. Even if they didn't directly fund contraceptive services, they still oppose authorizing someone else to cover birth control.

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a 37-page motion asking the court to lift the block on the mandate's enforcement.

More Articles on the Contraception Mandate:
DOJ Asks Supreme Court to Lift Birth Control Mandate Block
Justice Sonia Sotomayor Blocks PPACA Birth Control Mandate
New York Judge: Catholic Organizations Exempt From PPACA Contraception Coverage Rule 

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