The U.S. Supreme Court has implied that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should rethink how it applies HHS birth control benefits mandate regulations to employers who believe that use of birth control is wrong.
The court has issued a brief ruling tossing out a 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on Michigan Catholic Conference et al. vs. Burwell (Case Number 14-701).
HHS exempts houses of worship and some nonprofit organizations that are similar to houses of worship from the HHS birth control benefits mandate regulations altogether. It requires other types of nonprofit employers with religious objections to birth control benefits, and closely held for-profit corporations with owners who have religious objections to birth control benefits, to notify it about their objections.
The employers that object to the mandate need not provide birth control benefits, but they must give health insurance company and outside benefit plan administrator information to HHS. HHS then uses the information to provide birth control benefits for the employers’ employees.
A federal district court judge refused to give the Michigan Catholic Conference and other nonprofit religious employers in the case a preliminary injunction blocking the HHS strategy for handling employers with objections to the birth control mandate. A three-judge panel at the 6th Circuit upheld the district court approach in June 2014.
The panel argued that the HHS objector self-certification requirement does not trigger the provision of contraceptive coverage. “Instead, it triggers the entities disassociation from what they deem to be objectionable coverage,” a judge wrote in an opinion explaining the ruling.