A top federal appeals court signaled Friday that it might act on Obamacare’s HHS Mandate—requiring employers to cover birth control and abortion-related services.
After repeated assurances that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would not mandate abortion or people of faith violating their religious beliefs, the Obama administration issued a mandate requiring both, when Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) saying that a vague provision in the ACA requiring employers provide “preventive care” means that employer healthcare policies must cover birth control, abortion-related, and sterilization services.
A torrent of lawsuits have flooded the federal courts, with people of faith arguing that the HHS Mandate is both unconstitutional and a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The Obama administration did two things trying to derail this litigation. One was to include in the final rule an exemption for religious employers, which is so narrow that it only covers houses of worship. The other is that it issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), saying that it would expand this protection to accommodate other religious employers in a new rule that will be finalized in 2013.