Trump administration expands exemptions on contraceptive mandate

Trump directed Seema Varma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to deny Iowa's request for a Section 1332 waiver

It's been nearly exactly one year since Trump's pussy-grabbing Access Hollywood tapes leaked - and fast forward to Friday, POTUS has now rolled back a mandate requiring employer health care plans to pay for birth control.

More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-pays because of the contraceptive coverage mandate, according to a study commissioned by the Obama administration. (The new ruling specifically points to the rights of religious people who believe birth control is the same as an abortion.) It's the same excuse Texas GOP lawmakers have used to block LGBT spouses from getting health insurance, keep transgender Texans out of public bathrooms, keep LGBT parents from adopting kids, and limit a woman's ability to access a legal abortion.

Employers with religious or moral objections to providing birth control coverage in their workers' insurance will no longer have to do so under a new policy released Friday by the Trump administration. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 2014 Hobby Lobby ruling that closely held private companies could seek an exemption on religious grounds, only a few dozen employers requested one from the Obama administration, POLITICO found previous year. Not only do the new rules call into question the ability of tens of millions of women to afford birth control, but one of the reported chief authors of the new rules, Matthew Bowman of the Health and Human Services Department, is a noted anti-choice and anti-birth-control advocate.

"Today's outrageous rules by the Trump Administration show callous disregard for women's rights, health, and autonomy, said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center". Some private businesses sued regarding their rights to circumvent such coverage, and the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that they could object on religious grounds. "We all should have the liberty to work and live in line with our religious beliefs, without fear of government punishment", said Chris Plante, chief operating officer and policy director for the institute. "There is no legitimate rationale for taking away women's access to birth control, and there is no way we will allow this rollback of women's health care to happen without a fight".

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the action will allow companies and nonprofit groups to exclude coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

"We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore", Trump said at the time. "It's a good way to protect those Americans who want to be able to provide quality health insurance, but can't in good conscience provide contraceptives".

It included a provision that permitted religious institutions to forego birth control coverage for their employees.

The HHS policy announced today adds broad religious and moral exemptions to the mandate. Obamacare-compliant health insurance plans are required to cover "preventive services", a term defined through regulation. In this sense, it didn't accommodate them at all. "President Trump promised that this administration would 'lead by example on religious liberty, ' and he is delivering on that promise".

The NWLC suit is rooted, Gandal-Powers explains, in the new rule being discriminatory toward women.

One memo instructs Justice Department employees to incorporate its legal arguments on religious freedom into litigation strategies and how they review rules.

Birth control coverage has always been in the crosshairs of some Republican lawmakers. Nonprofits can direct to have their insurers or third-party administrators offer the coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and drugs that can cause abortions, but they do not have to do so under law.

AU will go to court to directly challenge the Trump administration's regulations so that these students and other women like them don't lose access to critical health care.

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