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New HHS Rule Expands Options to Protect Conscience

August 24, 2018

By Reed Smith, Counsel of First Liberty Institute

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is moving to fix a huge problem with Obamacare

Obamacare — also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — forced many Americans, from nuns to your neighbors, to choose between their faith or having health insurance coverage.

But the conflict didn’t end four years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the religious liberty of conscience-bound employers by concluding, in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, that some businesses could opt out of purchasing policies containing Obamacare’s contraception mandate.

While many employers have successfully claimed certain protections from the Obamacare contraception mandate, these protections do not typically extend to individuals and families buying coverage from the individual markets.

Under the Obamacare contraception mandate, insurance plans offered in Obamacare marketplaces must cover all FDA-approved forms of birth control. Though employers may opt out of purchasing such coverage in limited circumstances, there has been no mechanism for individual consumers of the state markets to avoid purchasing plans that cover contraception.

These requirements force pro-life Catholics and others who morally oppose birth control to choose between purchasing coverage that violates their deeply held convictions or going without health insurance.

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