Contraception case could affect other coverage decisions

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments beginning today on whether employers can legally object to covering contraception as required under the Affordable Care Act. It's decision could affect other health coverage choices as well, according to MedPage Today.

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Craft store chain Hobby Lobby believes it should be granted religious exemption since founder David Green considers providing certain contraceptive benefits tantamount to abortion complicity. If the justices agree with Hobby Lobby, they could open the door for other companies to similarly argue against providing coverage for some services.

"If we get a very broad opinion in favor of Hobby Lobby's position, it isn't just contraception, but a host of other federal regulations that may be challenged based on the idea that they substantially burden a person's religious exercise," Darrell Miller, law professor at Duke University, told MedPage Today. "Corporations, or their owners or directors, may assert that they can refuse to cover HIV treatment, or blood transfusions, or vaccinations."

Timothy Jost, law professor at Washington and Lee University, agrees that the issue could extend beyond this case. "The government can't really get into deciding whether someone's religious beliefs are sincere or rational or deeply held," Jost told MedPage Today. "What do you do then when someone steps forward and says 'I have a religious objection to Obamacare?'"

He added that the Department of Justice has the challenging task of proving that contraception and birth control is a compelling public health issue that overrides religious freedom.

However, it's also possible that the Supreme Court could issue a very specific opinion, making it hard to apply it beyond the contraceptive coverage issue, the article noted.

To learn more:
- read the MedPage Today article