Supreme Court will hear ACA contraceptive mandate challenge in consolidated case

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to rule on several religious nonprofits' objections to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive coverage mandate, marking the fourth time the justices will review challenges to the ACA.

The Court granted certiorari to at least part of seven cases--including suits filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor as well as religious colleges and universities--all of which it plans to consolidate. An appellate court's decision in the cases of three Midwestern Christian colleges may have spurred the Supreme Court's review of the ACA challenges, as it split with other rulings by siding with the plaintiffs, FierceHealthPayer has reported.

The plaintiffs argue that the requirement that they petition the government to opt out of the ACA's birth-control-coverage mandate places an unjust burden on their freedom to practice religion. While the Obama administration has proposed that closely held companies can notify the federal government that they object to covering contraceptives, the groups say this still violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In addition to the initial challenge to the ACA and the King v. Burwell case it decided this summer, the Supreme Court has already heard a case about the law's contraceptive coverage mandate. In that case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., the justices ruled that for-profit companies that object to contraception methods on religious grounds don't have to include birth control in their health plans.

President Barack Obama's signature legislation faces another threat in the form of a suit filed against the administration by House Republicans. In that case, the plaintiffs claim that it's illegal for the Obama administration to pay subsidies to insurance companies, as the funds were never appropriated by Congress.

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

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