By Carla Branch
alexandriaews.org

The Trump administration today proposed two rules exempting some employers from providing mandated contraceptive services under the Affordable Care Act.

 

“This is yet another example of the Trump administration’s unconscionable sabotage of health care access,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Instead of focusing on how to keep Americans healthy, this administration is focused on scoring political points with its base.

“Protecting access to birth control ensures that women have the freedom to make choices about their own reproductive health regardless of their income level. This decision will have a negative impact on the health and economic security of women across Virginia and our nation. Limiting this mandate will increase the likelihood of unintended pregnancies and a reduction of economic opportunity for women across our nation.

“Instead of working to expand access to care, this administration is consumed with undermining the Affordable Care Act at every turn. They have purposely created havoc in the private insurance market by refusing to commit to cost-sharing reductions, which help more than 200,000 lower-income Virginians pay for health insurance. The resulting uncertainty has directly caused insurers to raise health insurance premiums and withdraw from Virginia markets altogether.

“The administration is also trying to make it more difficult for people to buy insurance through the federal Marketplace. They have cut the enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1, in half; reduced advertising by 90 percent; cut grants to groups that help enroll people; and announced that the Marketplace’s website will be down for maintenance multiple times in the limited enrollment period.

“These are not the actions of an administration that wants to ensure its citizens are healthy. These are the actions of an administration that puts scoring political points ahead of American women and their families,” McAuliffe said.

According to a press release issued today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the following are the ‘key facts’ regarding the new proposed rules:

  • The regulations exempt entities only from providing an otherwise mandated item to which they object on the basis of their religious beliefs or moral conviction.
  • The regulation leaves in place preventive services coverage guidelines where no religious or moral objection exists – meaning that out of millions of employers in the U.S., these exemptions may impact only about 200 entities, the number that that filed lawsuits based on religious or moral objections.
    • These rules will not affect over 99.9% of the 165 million women in the United States.
  • Current law itself already exempts over 25 million people from the preventive-care mandate because they are insured through an entity that has a health insurance plan that existed prior to the Obamacare statute.
  • The regulations leave in place government programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptive coverage to low income women, such as through community health centers.
  • These regulations do not ban any drugs or devices.
  • The mandate as defined by the previous administration suffered defeats in court after court, including the Supreme Court, which ruled that the government cannot punish business owners for their faith

Click here for the Interim Final Rules, which are scheduled to published on Oct. 13, 2017.

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