Proposed adjustments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s contraception requirement wouldn’t change anything for businesses whose owners have moral objections.
“Apart from religious organizations like schools and hospitals, it does precious little,” said Randall Wenger, chief counsel of the Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center. “The administration stated that it understood there were religious liberties problems and that the new proposed regulations were meant to address those issues. But it doesn’t. Clearly the administration does not respect the religious liberties concerns of corporations and their owners.”
The Independence Law Center is representing Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Lancaster County company that has filed an appeal after losing its civil case against the requirement.
The law imposes a fine of $100 per employee per day on employers whose health insurance offering does not provide contraceptives, including those that some consider abortifacients. There is an exception for religious employers, defined as those that have the inculcation of religious values as their purpose, primarily employ those who share their religious tenets, primarily serve those who share their religious tenets and are nonprofits under two specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code.
The proposed regulations would affect those religious employers and affiliated nonprofits, keeping them from paying directly for the contraceptives. Instead, health insurance companies would pay for the coverage.
The Hahn family, which owns Conestoga, cited its Mennonite faith in opposing the requirement.
“Conestoga Wood Specialties and the Hahn family are still endeavoring to stand by their freedom of conscience,” Wenger said. They have filed an appeal and also a motion for suspension of the penalty, which costS about $95,000 a day, while the case is decided. Wenger said the Hahns are hoping to hear from the court any day, but the decision could take weeks.
A number of similar suits filed across the country are working their way through the courts, with varied results.