Biden Administration Proposes New Rules to Expand Access to Contraceptive Coverage
On January 30, 2023, the U.S. Departments of Health & Human Services, Labor, and Treasury (the Departments) issued proposed rules to expand access to no cost contraceptive services. Specifically, the Departments proposed removing the moral exemption to providing contraceptive coverage under an employer’s group health plan.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), non-grandfathered group health plans offering non-grandfathered group or individual health coverage are required to provide coverage for certain contraceptives prescribed by a health care provider, absent an exemption. In 2018, the Departments issued rules providing exemptions from the contraceptive coverage mandate for entities and individuals who claim a moral or religious objection to providing contraceptive coverage. Under these rules, almost any employer could obtain an exemption from covering contraceptives by claiming that the provision of such coverage is contrary to its religious beliefs; and all but publicly-traded companies may claim an exemption based on a sincerely held moral objection.
The new proposed rules would completely remove the moral exemption while retaining the religious exemption. If a plan sponsor is currently objecting to and excluding coverage of contraceptives based on a sincerely held moral objection, the plan will no longer qualify for an exemption once the new rules are finalized. This means that such a plan will have to cover contraceptive services in accordance with applicable guidelines. If an employer’s plan documents currently contain language related to the refusal to cover contraceptives based on a moral objection, the documents should be amended to remove such language upon finalization of the proposed rules.
If you have any questions about the current rules regarding contraceptive coverage, or want to know more about the proposed rules, please contact a member of the Miller Johnson Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group.