Notre Dame's contraception challenge gets a second chance

The U.S. Supreme Court has breathed new life into Notre Dame's challenge to the Affordable Care Act's contraception provision after it ordered a lower court to reexamine its decision that the Roman Catholic university was not temporarily exempt from providing contraception coverage, according to court documents.

The high court said that the situation is different after it ruled last year that closely held corporations can't be required to provide contraception coverage. In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court decided that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires the government give closely held (family-owned) companies the same protections already provided to nonprofit organizations.

That means the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will review Notre Dame v. Burwell, the university's case against the Obama administration compromise that says insurers must cover the cost of contraceptive coverage when employers have religious objections.

Notre Dame, along with Catholic and Christian leaders, objects to emergency contraception and intrauterine devices and say they won't support the Obama administration's compromise because it allows their health plan to be the vehicle for providing birth control.

As the Seventh Circuit reviews the challenge, it could prompt big, publicly traded corporations, to use the court's new Notre Dame decision or Hobby Lobby opinion to defend denying contraceptive coverage. If those companies take such action, insurers could be facing substantial costs: More than 90 percent of private companies are closely held, and they employ 52 percent of all workers.

To learn more:
- here's the Supreme Court order