ACA Contraceptive Case Back to Lower Courts

A shorthanded Supreme Court declined Monday to decide challenges to an Affordable Care Act requirement about providing contraceptive coverage, saying that there was a possibility of compromise between religious objectors and the government. (The Washington Post)

Releasing an unsigned, seven-paragraph opinion in one of its most closely watched disputes, the court said it “expresses no view on the merits of the cases” and sent them back to federal appeals courts around the country. The opinion pointed the Obama administration and suing religious groups to an unusual proposal the justices floated in March after arguments suggested a possible 4-4 deadlock. (Employee Benefit News)

At issue was the Obama administration’s plan for accommodating religious groups that don’t want to provide birth control coverage for employees or students. The administration offered to give objecting groups two options: They could shift responsibility onto their insurer by providing it with a “self-certification” form, or they could notify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of their objection and provide contact information for their insurer. (Bloomberg)

Religious non-profits that have fought the Obama administration’s contraceptives rule were pleased with the ruling, which struck down several appeals court decisions and absolved objectors from having to pay taxes or penalties in the meantime. (USA Today)