November 27, 2013 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The U.S. Supreme Court will hear two cases relating to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or ACA), focusing on the issue of coverage for contraceptives.
According to a news report in The
Washington Post, the issue to be clarified is whether employers with religious
objections may refuse to provide employees health care coverage for contraceptives,
which is mandated by the ACA (see “Agencies
Clarify Required Coverage for Contraceptives”). The cases generated opposing
results when heard by separate federal appellate courts.
In the first case, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Kathleen
Sebelius et al., the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the
plaintiff/employer, citing the fact that forcing the employer to comply with
the relevant portion of the ACA would violate another law, namely the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act. In the second case, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp.
v. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services et al., the 3rd
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the employer, citing an absence of
case law to support a for-profit, secular company exercising religion.
The cases will be consolidated for an oral argument before
the Supreme Court, tentatively set for March 2014, says the news report.
The full text of the opinion in Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v.
Kathleen Sebelius et al. can be found here.
The full text of the opinion in Conestoga Wood
Specialties Corp. v. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services et al. can be found here.