Leaked draft rule suggests Trump will roll back Obama's birth control coverage mandate

Leaked draft rule suggests Trump will roll back Obama's birth control coverage mandate
A leaked draft rule suggests the Trump administration will revoke Obama's birth control mandate.
Source: Charles Dharapak/AP
A leaked draft rule suggests the Trump administration will revoke Obama's birth control mandate.
Source: Charles Dharapak/AP

President Donald Trump reportedly plans to roll back the Obama-era mandate that requires insurers to cover birth control, allowing any company to request a religious or moral exemption from offering employees copay-free birth control.

Vox published a leaked draft regulation, which is currently in its final phase of review with the White House Office of Management and Budget, on Wednesday. The rule would potentially exempt any employer from offering health insurance plans that cover contraception, expanding accommodations the Obama administration offered solely to religious houses of worship, as well as religious hospitals and universities, and "closely held," for-profit corporations.

In an emailed statement, Dana Singiser — Planned Parenthood Federation of America's vice president of public policy and government relations — said denying women contraceptive coverage "on a whim ... makes a farce of the Trump administration’s so-called 'women's empowerment' agenda."

"Think about it," Singiser said. "Under this rule, bosses will be able to impose their personal beliefs on their female employees' private medical decisions."

For many women, copay-free birth control could soon be a thing of the past.
Source: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers have to cover the cost of any FDA-approved birth control method. In its 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers with strong religious beliefs could provide employees with health insurance plans that didn't pay for contraception, but the Obama administration countered with an allowance: These companies could file for exemptions, but through third party administrators, their insurers were still obligated to offer employees replacement plans that accounted for birth control.

Those accommodations didn't satisfy all religiously affiliated entities, however, some of which did not qualify for exemptions. There were also religious groups that balked at the idea of filling out the forms, which they believed implies some degree of support for contraceptive use. The Supreme Court called for a compromise on the issue, but none was achieved before the end of the Obama administration.

On Tuesday, Mic reported that a forthcoming rule would allow religious employers to opt out of employee contraceptive coverage entirely. The leaked draft rule, however, suggests that instead, the Trump administration will allow any employer — including health insurance companies — to apply for religious exemptions. As Vox reported, the White House maintains it doesn't know of any insurer that would file such a claim, but still, the option is on the table. And that means many women could start paying copays on birth control again.

That's unfortunate because, according to Singiser, the Obama-era birth control mandate "saved women an estimated $1.4 billion in its first year alone." It also seems to have translated to a 13% drop in national abortion rates between 2008 and 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And, as Dr. Anne Davis, consulting medical director of Physicians for Reproductive Health, put it in a statement, "Employers should not interfere in what is a private decision by withholding insurance coverage." Period.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Bill Cosby to appear in court for alleged 1974 assault of 15-year-old girl

Cosby will appear in court on July 30, 2018 for allegedly forcing a teen girl to perform oral sex on him over 40 years ago.

Nearly 850 backlogged rape kits were found infested with mold in Texas

The mold-infested rape kits don't appear to have contaminated the DNA samples inside, according to authorities.

Season 11 of 'The X-Files' will be written entirely by men

Only six women have ever written for the beloved sci-fi show, which boasts over 200 episodes and spawned two feature-length films.

Does nursing require a "woman’s touch"? These male nurses say no.

Christian Martin and Dan Douglas are two men working as nurses — and it's mostly NBD.

The GOP health care bill's one-year ban on Planned Parenthood is a bigger problem than you think

Compared to the millions who will lose coverage, restricting federal funds for just 365 days doesn't seem that bad. But it is.

There's a new effort to recall Judge Aaron Perksy, who sentenced Brock Turner

If voters in Persky's county collect enough signatures, the judge could be on the chopping block in 2018.

Bill Cosby to appear in court for alleged 1974 assault of 15-year-old girl

Cosby will appear in court on July 30, 2018 for allegedly forcing a teen girl to perform oral sex on him over 40 years ago.

Nearly 850 backlogged rape kits were found infested with mold in Texas

The mold-infested rape kits don't appear to have contaminated the DNA samples inside, according to authorities.

Season 11 of 'The X-Files' will be written entirely by men

Only six women have ever written for the beloved sci-fi show, which boasts over 200 episodes and spawned two feature-length films.

Does nursing require a "woman’s touch"? These male nurses say no.

Christian Martin and Dan Douglas are two men working as nurses — and it's mostly NBD.

The GOP health care bill's one-year ban on Planned Parenthood is a bigger problem than you think

Compared to the millions who will lose coverage, restricting federal funds for just 365 days doesn't seem that bad. But it is.

There's a new effort to recall Judge Aaron Perksy, who sentenced Brock Turner

If voters in Persky's county collect enough signatures, the judge could be on the chopping block in 2018.