The Supreme Court agreed again this month to review a part of the Affordable Care Act, this time considering cases from Christian institutions that say the arrangements the Obama administration created to accommodate their objections to insurance coverage for birth control are inadequate.
The case pits against each other questions of religious freedom and a woman’s right to equal access to healthcare. This will be the fourth time the Supreme Court will have considered a case regarding the 2010 health care law since its passage.
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As part of the Affordable Care Act, employers were required to include in their health insurance plans coverage for birth control with no out-of-pocket expense to the employee.
However in 2014, the high court ruled that this law imposed upon certain organizations’ religious affiliations and violated their freedom to believe certain kinds of contraception are immoral. Most noteworthy of these companies is the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby.
Problems came quickly after this ruling, though, as the Supreme Court did not lay out any specific requirements for federal officials as to what would continue to be an imposition on the company’s religious rights.
Following the case, the Obama administration set up a system in which an organization can opt out of the legal requirement for coverage on contraceptives by stating its objections. It then falls on the insurance company and the government to take over coverage from there.
The groups to be heard in the new case say that even with this step, they would be implicated in what they believe to be a sin. They would like for their company or institution to be included in the blanket exemption the government granted to churches and solely religious groups.
The Obama administration contends that it worked hard to find a balance between an organization’s religious-freedom rights and a woman’s right to access to the health law’s benefits regardless of her workplace.
The court accepted for review seven cases from religious charities, a Catholic anti-abortion advocacy organization and religious elementary schools, high schools and colleges. The justices will hear the cases together, with arguments likely beginning in March 2016.
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