The Affordable Care Act requires that all health plans in 2014 cover certain preventive care at no cost to enrollees – including birth control. Since the passage of the law, the Administration has provided some exceptions to the requirement for coverage provided to employees by certain religious and non-profit institutions. Some for-profit companies, however, have a serious problem with this requirement on religious grounds and have taken it to court.
In two separate cases, the owners of Hobby Lobby – a chain of craft supply stores – and Constego Wood Specialties – a cabinet-making company – have claimed that covering contraceptives like Plan B amount to paying for abortions, which directly conflicts with their religious beliefs. Among the many issues at stake is whether or not a corporation (vs. an individual) can have religious beliefs, which are protected by the First Amendment and other federal laws.
The lower courts are in disagreement with separate rulings in favor of Hobby Lobby’s claims and against those of Constego. Last Monday, the Supreme Court announced it will take up the cases. While these challenges don’t impact the whole of the law, perhaps by next summer we will have some clarity from the highest court in the land on at least one of the criticisms of the law.