Gov't: Birth control mandate should not be blocked - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Gov't: Birth control mandate should not be blocked

By JESSE J. HOLLAND
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration on Friday called on a Supreme Court justice to stop blocking the new health care law's requirement that some religion-affiliated organizations provide health insurance that includes birth control.

The Justice Department called on Justice Sonia Sotomayor to dissolve her last-minute stay on the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Sotomayor issued the stay on New Year's Eve, only hours before the law's coverage went into effect.

Under the health care law, most health insurance plans have to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives as preventive care for women, free of cost to the patient. Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from the birth control requirement, but affiliated institutions that serve the general public are not. That includes charitable organizations, universities and hospitals.

In response to an outcry, the government came up with a compromise that requires insurers or health plan administrators to provide birth control coverage, but allows the religious group to distance itself from that action. The exemption is triggered when the religious group signs a form for the insurer saying that it objects to the coverage.

The insurer can then go forward with the coverage.

A group of Denver nuns who run nursing homes for the poor, called the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, say signing that form makes them complicit in providing contraceptive coverage, and therefore violates their religious beliefs. "Unfortunately, the federal government has started the new year the same way that it ended the old one: trying to bully nuns into violating their religious beliefs," said their lawyer, Mark Rienzi, who is also senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

But Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said in court papers that nothing in the law will make those nuns pay for birth control for their employees. The nuns' insurance is provided through a church plan that is not required to provide contraceptive coverage and has said it will not, he said, making their complaint baseless.

"With the stroke of their own pen, applicants can secure for themselves the relief they seek from this Court - an exemption from the requirements of the contraceptive-coverage provision - and the employer-applicants' employees (and their family members) will not receive contraceptive coverage through the plan's third-party administrator either. The application should be denied," Verrilli argued.

It is not known when Sotomayor will make a decision.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Hawaii News Now headlinesNewsMore>>

  • Some turned away from over-capacity grad ceremony at UH

    Some turned away from over-capacity grad ceremony at UH

    Sunday, December 17 2017 1:16 AM EST2017-12-17 06:16:54 GMT
    (Image: Hawaii News Now)(Image: Hawaii News Now)

    Clad in their green academic gowns and fancy caps, nearly 1,000 UH Manoa students walked the stage at Stan Sheriff Center on Saturday for the University's Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony. 

    More >>

    Clad in their green academic gowns and fancy caps, nearly 1,000 UH Manoa students walked the stage at Stan Sheriff Center on Saturday for the University's Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony. 

    More >>
  • Six Hawaii post offices to be open this Sunday

    Six Hawaii post offices to be open this Sunday

    Sunday, December 17 2017 1:08 AM EST2017-12-17 06:08:01 GMT
    (Image: Hawaii News Now)(Image: Hawaii News Now)

    HONOLULU, Hawaii – The Postal Service announced that the following six Oahu Post Offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday to serve its seasonal increase in holiday customers. - Airport (Main) Post Office - Ala Moana Post Office - Kaneohe Post Office - Mililani Post Office - Waialae Kahala Post Office - Waipahu Post Office Postal officials expect Dec...

    More >>

    HONOLULU, Hawaii – The Postal Service announced that the following six Oahu Post Offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday to serve its seasonal increase in holiday customers. - Airport (Main) Post Office - Ala Moana Post Office - Kaneohe Post Office - Mililani Post Office - Waialae Kahala Post Office - Waipahu Post Office Postal officials expect Dec...

    More >>
  • N. Korea unmoved as world unites against its nuke ambitions

    N. Korea unmoved as world unites against its nuke ambitions

    Friday, December 15 2017 5:35 PM EST2017-12-15 22:35:55 GMT
    Sunday, December 17 2017 12:11 AM EST2017-12-17 05:11:12 GMT
    North Korea's friends and enemies joined forces Friday in opposing its determination to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state and calling on leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean...More >>
    North Korea's friends and enemies joined forces Friday in opposing its determination to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state and calling on leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.More >>
Powered by Frankly