Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has promised to revoke the contraceptive mandate exemption to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if he’s elected this November. Under the current administration, exceptions to the mandate could be made for some. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration can include exempt religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor from having to pay for birth control.
However, it remains to be seen what will come of this decision if Biden wins the presidency and eliminates the exemption.
“This accommodation will allow women at these organizations to access contraceptive coverage, not through their employer-provided plan, but instead through their insurance company or a third-party administrator.” Biden said, discussing how he would overturn contraceptive exemptions for religious groups.
The Little Sisters of the Poor have objected to using a third-party administrator, as this would still force them to violate their religious beliefs. Not only does the group see contraceptive use as immoral, but certain types of hormonal birth control can act as abortifacients.
In 2011, the Secretary of Health and Human Services stated all ACA-compliant health care plans must cover at least one type of female birth control. The rule had a narrow exemption in 2012 for churches or religious organizations. But because the Little Sisters of the Poor employed or served others who held varying beliefs, the rule did not apply to them.
After Trump’s administration enacted exemptions for groups like the charitable Catholic nuns, several states sued, citing supposed violations under the Administrative Procedure Act.
However, the Supreme Court said the Trump administration “had the statutory authority to craft the exemption…the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects.”
If Trump was within his authority to enact protections for religious groups, then Biden would be acting within his authority by reversing it. Since the Court declined to answer certain questions within their resolution, the Little Sisters may be back in court again soon.