Supreme Court to review ACA contraception compromise: 5 things to know

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review whether a process for opting out of the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate is at odds with a federal law on religious freedom.

Here are five things to know about high court's review of the issue.

1. The ACA requires employers to include a set of preventive services in healthcare plans offered to employees. The Obama administration included FDA-approved contraceptives in the list of mandatory preventive services. The health reform law fully exempted certain institutions such as churches from the mandate, but not their affiliated nonprofit employers such as Catholic hospitals.

2. In June 2014, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled business owners may refuse to provide their female employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives if the owners have religious objections to some or all forms of birth control.

3. As a way to ensure female employees still receive full contraceptive coverage, the Obama administration put a new system in place. Under the compromise arrangement, an employer states its religious objection to the government and then the government steps in and turns to the organization's insurer to cover the contraception, without the religious employer's involvement.

4. The arrangement has been challenged many times by religious employers who believe the workaround leaves them complicit in a practice that violates their beliefs. Although the majority of those challenges were rejected at the appellate level, a St. Louis-based court sided with arguments made by Christian schools and religious employers in the Midwest, according to The Wall Street Journal. The court ruled the opt-out process likely violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

5. The Supreme Court will review the issue to resolve the conflicting lower court decisions. Oral arguments are expected in March 2016, with a decision expected by the end of June, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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