HR Management & Compliance

Supreme Court agrees to hear ACA contraception coverage cases

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) overcame a large hurdle when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its provisions (including the individual mandate) last year, the Court announced today that it would take another look at the law. This time, it will be reviewing another one of the law’s controversial mandates—the contraceptive mandate.

Under the ACA, many health insurance plans must cover certain preventive services for women without cost sharing (e.g., coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles). These preventive services include contraceptive methods and counseling—or more specifically, “all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” However, there are exceptions to the mandate. For example, the requirement to cover such preventive services doesn’t apply to grandfathered health plans or to certain religious employers.

The contraceptive mandate has been the subject of quite a few lawsuits across the country since the ACA became law. Today, the Supreme Court announced it would hear two cases challenging it—Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. Both cases concern whether corporations may decline to provide contraceptive coverage to employees based on the religious beliefs of their owners.

The Supreme Court noted that it was consolidating the cases and granted one hour for oral argument, which is expected in the spring.