Administration releases new regulations on Obamacare’s contraception mandate

Proposed new regulations on contraceptives for employees of nonprofit religious organizations and closely held for-profit companies objecting to such coverage were released today.

The proposals come in the form of interim final regulations. They address the Supreme Court’s June rulings on the two significant cases on the issue as follows.

Conestoga Wood and Hobby Lobby: As widely expected, the plan would expand the existing nonprofit accommodation to objecting for-profit companies. The accommodations say the organizations do not have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage, with insurers instead required to provide separate payments for contraceptive services for the women in the health plan of the organization, at no cost to the women or to the organization.

“As explained in the final rules, issuers will find that providing such payments is cost-neutral,” a fact sheet released today says.

The proposal describes two alternative approaches for defining an objecting for-profit. Under one approach, the entity could not be publicly traded and ownership of the entity would be limited to a certain number of owners. Under the other, the entity could not be publicly traded and a minimum percentage of ownership would be concentrated among a certain number of owners. The number and concentration are not specified in the proposed rules.

• Wheaton College: The proposal would adjust the accommodation requirements. Currently, objecting nonprofits must notify their insurers, which some nonprofits have protested because that act triggers the provision of the contraceptives to which they object. In response, today’s proposal says an eligible organization may notify the Department of Health and Human Services in writing of its religious objection to contraception coverage, and HHS will then notify the insurer.

Heather Stauffer

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