Administrative Attacks on Contraceptive Coverage [Call to Action]


Posted on December 4, 2017 by SisterLove's Policy and Advocacy Team



Dear SisterLove Supporters:

We need you to take action! As you may know, our right to contraceptives and preventive reproductive healthcare under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, has been under attack for quite some time. The latest effort is under way and we need YOU to make your voice heard by Midnight TOMORROW December, 5th.

Summary:

The current administration recently made it easier for employers, insurance companies, and universities to deny their employees and students and their families insurance coverage for contraception. Free and low-cost contraceptives and preventive reproductive care are essential to creating workplace equality for women, especially Black women and other women of color, people living with HIV, LGBTQ+ folk, and their families. Entities should not be able to use their religious and/or moral beliefs to deny such coverage to their employees, students, subscribers, and their families. That’s why we need you to take action!

Background:

The ACA mandates employers to cover preventive reproductive services, which includes cost-free contraceptive coverage.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell granted employers with sincerely held religious beliefs against the use of contraceptives the ability to apply for accommodations under the Mandate. These accommodations allowed the employer to skirt paying for the coverage of its employees’ contraceptives, but required a third-party administrator to cover the cost. These accommodations only applied to a certain type of religious corporations – religious non-profits (such as churches) and their related “auxiliaries” and closely-held for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby.

Now, Trump’s Departments of the Treasury, of Labor, and of Health and Human Services have jointly passed final interim rules which (among other things):

1. Expand the exemption to closely held for-profits and non-profits based on moral objections

2. Expand the religious exemption to include publicly-traded for-profit companies with sincerely held religious beliefs &

3. Make the accommodation optional for both religiously and morally exempt employers, making it essentially useless.

Why it matters:

Making the accommodation optional essentially makes it useless. And expanding the exemption means it is open to more entities, who can use religious or moral beliefs to discriminate. In effect, the number of institutions taking advantage of these moral and religious exemptions will likely increase, and they will likely not provide accommodations if they do not have to – thus leaving us to pay out of pocket for our costly contraceptives, and lose the benefit of the ACA Mandate. As stated above, these exemptions will mostly impact low-income women of color, people living with HIV, and LGBTQ+ folks and our families.

They will also set dangerous precedent for allowing religious and moral beliefs to take precedence over otherwise valid legal obligations (such as serving customers in a public establishment), regardless of how much it harms people.

Though these interim final rules are already in place, the Departments are seeking public comment on whether they should become final rules. The more people who comment with their opposition to these rules, the more likely it is that the Departments will reverse these dangerous rules and keep the ACA Mandate in full effect.

TAKE ACTION:

1. Add your name to SisterLove, Inc.’s comment: CLICK HERE

2. Submit your own personalized comment by:

a. Following a link:

i. Moral Exemptions Here: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=CMS-2017-0133-0002

ii. Religious Exemptions Here: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=CMS-2014-0115-13773

b. Selecting the blue “Comment Now!”

c. Copying and pasting the language provided below

d. Adding your personal story to make it more effective, and

e. Following the directions on the screen to submit it.

—–Sample Comment—–

December 5, 2017

Acting Secretary Eric Hargan

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services

Attention: CMS-9925-IFC

P.O. Box 8016

Baltimore, MD 21244-8016

RE: Religious and Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act

RIN 0938-AT20 &

RIN0938-AT46

Dear Acting Secretary Eric Hargan:

I respectfully demand that the Departments repeal the interim final rules expanding religious and moral exemptions to the ACA’s contraception mandate. I am personally affected by these rules because {INSERT PERSONAL STORY regarding you, your family, or a loved one’s need for contraceptive coverage}.

All people deserve to get the health care they need, free from discrimination. No employer, health insurance provider, or university should be allowed to use religious or moral beliefs to prevent us from accessing needed care. The consequences of the rules, which make the mandate virtually meaningless, will be felt hardest by low-income under-employed people–typically Black women and other people of

color, people living with HIV and AIDS, LGBTQ+ individuals, people facing language barriers, rural families, and low-income families. These rules further push people like me to the margins, compromising my bodily autonomy to choose if, when, and how to create and raise my family. We cannot afford to be marginalized any further.

Sincerely,

{INSERT YOUR NAME}

SisterLove

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