Key points: These are broad exemptions.
- Allowing exemptions based on a “moral” objection is a big step. Previous exemptions and carve-outs were limited to employers’ religious beliefs.
- When the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby should be able to get an exemption from the mandate, it limited its decision to companies that are closely controlled by a few people. Hobby Lobby, for example, already closed on Sundays and otherwise reflected the faith of its owners. These new rules will allow any company to seek an exemption.
The background: The ACA requires employers to include certain preventive services — including contraception — in their employees’ health care plans, without copays or other forms of cost-sharing. Churches have always been exempt. The Supreme Court also allowed an exemption for closely held corporations whose owners have a religious objection to contraception.
The Obama administration had tried to work out a middle ground for other “religious-affiliated” employers, but they said that process was still an encroachment on their religious liberty.