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Oct. 6, 2017 – The Trump administration today issued interim final rules which could restrict access to birth control for hundreds of thousands of women. The rules—which were issued by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury—create a broad exemption that enables employers, health insurance providers, and universities claiming a religious or moral objection to deny their employees, insurance holders, and students coverage for contraception.
There is now a 60-day period during which the public is able to submit comments to the administration about the interim final rules.
Although women are entitled to coverage for birth control at no cost under the ACA, these rules will effectively deny thousands of women coverage based on the personal objections of their employers, universities, or insurers. In addition, these rules offer employers, universities, and insurers a seemingly unworkable option of offering any individual who objects to contraceptive coverage a separate insurance plan excluding such coverage; it is unclear how this provision will be implemented.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently considering all legal action to ensure women can get the health care they need, free from discrimination.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“The Trump administration continues to display a startling disregard for the reality of women’s health and lives. An employer or university can’t be allowed to use religious or moral beliefs to prevent a woman from planning her future and her family. The Center for Reproductive Rights is prepared to fight these discriminatory and unconstitutional restrictions in court.”
The ACA’s guarantee of coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives without out-of-pocket costs stands as one of the most important advancements in women’s health in a generation. Under the ACA, over 62.4 million women have gained guaranteed coverage of preventive services without co-pays, including birth control. Access to contraceptives benefits women’s health and enables them to pursue their educational and professional goals.
At the same time the Trump administration announced rolling back the contraceptive coverage rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said it would apply more stringent enforcement to a provision in the ACA that prohibits individuals’ premium tax credits or cost sharing reductions from being used to cover abortion care, except in limited circumstances. Insurance companies that cover abortion care are required to collect and keep separate funds for the provision of that care.
Today’s rules are just the latest in a long line of attacks on women’s health and rights from the Trump administration. Trump reinstated an expanded version of the Global Gag Rule as one of his first official acts as President and also signed a measure rescinding a rule protecting health care for patients who access family planning services like birth control and cancer screening through the federal Title X program. He also appointed numerous anti-choice activists to key positions in the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year and spent months pushing Congress to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and attack women’s health care.