Fort Worth Business Press Guest Article: The Hobby Lobby Decision: Supreme Court Decision Will Have an Impact, But What Will It Be?

07/08/2014

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and two other closely held for-profit corporations do not have to offer employees contraceptive coverage as required under the Affordable Care Act (also known as health care reform or Obamacare). The court reinforced this decision July 1 when it left in place other lower court rulings in favor of businesses owned by Catholics who oppose covering all methods of contraception. As soon as the decision was issued, pundits from both sides of the aisle expressed opinions regarding the implications of this decision for the future of health plan coverage. While the decision is significant, it remains uncertain how the court’s ruling will be applied outside of the contraception mandate.

Specifically, the court held the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), which prohibits the federal government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest. According to the court, there were less restrictive means of ensuring no-cost contraceptive coverage for the employees of closely held for-profit corporations with religious objections to the contraceptive mandate. For example, an existing exemption for nonprofit religious organizations with religious objections permits the nonprofit religious organization to not offer contraceptive coverage, but ensures contraceptive coverage for employees is offered from other sources. 

Excerpted from the Fort Worth Business Press, July 8, 2014. To view full article, click here.

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