Health Care Reform

Administration Issues Final Rules on Coverage of Certain Recommended Preventive Services Without Cost Sharing

Final rules secure women’s access to contraceptive services while respecting religious beliefs

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—July 10, 2015. Today, the Administration took important steps to make sure women have access to recommended preventive services, including contraceptive services, at no additional cost as required by the Affordable Care Act.  The first action announced today maintains the existing accommodation for eligible religious nonprofits, but also finalizes an alternative pathway for those organizations to provide notice of their objection to covering contraceptive services.  A second action announced today provides certain closely held for-profit entities the same accommodations. Today’s rules also finalize interim final rules on preventive services coverage generally, with limited changes.

“Women across the country should have access to preventive services, including contraception,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell.  “At the same time, we recognize the deeply held views on these issues, and we are committed to securing women’s access to important preventive services at no additional cost under the Affordable Care Act, while respecting religious beliefs.”

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury, finalized interim final rules that establish an alternative way for eligible organizations that have a religious objection to covering contraceptive services to seek an accommodation from contracting, providing, paying, or referring for such services.  These rules allow these eligible organizations to notify HHS in writing of their religious objection to providing contraception coverage, as an alternative to filling out the form provided by the Department of Labor to provide to their issuer or third-party administrator. HHS and the Department of Labor will then notify insurers and third party administrators of the organization’s objection so that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate payments for contraceptive services, with no additional cost to the enrollee or organization, and no involvement by the organization.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the Departments are also issuing final rules that provide the above accommodations to closely held for-profit entities.  Relying on a definition used in federal tax law, the final rules define a “closely held for-profit entity” as an entity that is not publicly traded and that has an ownership structure under which more than 50 percent of the organization’s ownership interest is owned by five or fewer individuals, or an entity with a substantially similar ownership structure.  For purposes of this definition, all of the ownership interests held by members of a family are treated as being owned by a single individual.  Based on available information, the Departments believe that this definition includes all of the for-profit companies that have challenged the contraceptive-coverage requirement on religious grounds.

The rules finalize standards concerning documentation and disclosure of a closely held for-profit entity’s decision not to provide coverage for contraceptive services.

Today’s rules also finalize interim final rules on the coverage of preventive services generally, with limited changes.  They reflect public feedback received in response to the interim final rules issued in 2010 and proposed and interim final rules issued in August 2014. 

The final rules can be found here:

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