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Employers Must Inform Workers When Denying Contraceptive Coverage, Labor Dept. Says

Employers Must Inform Workers When Denying Contraceptive Coverage, Labor Dept. Says

July 18, 2014 — The Department of Labor on Thursday said that corporations that refuse to provide contraceptive coverage per the Supreme Court's Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling must inform their employees of the change within 60 days, Modern Healthcare reports (Carlson, Modern Healthcare, 7/17).

The department posted the notice on its website shortly after Senate Republicans blocked passage of a bill that would have reversed the high court's ruling, according to the Wall Street Journal (Armour, Wall Street Journal, 7/17).

An Obama administration official said Thursday that "the House should act" on similar legislation but added that in the meantime, "we are making clear that if a corporation like Hobby Lobby drops coverage of contraceptive services from its health plan, it must do so in the light of day by letting its workers and their families know."

Notice Details

According to the Huffington Post, current law already requires employers to disclose any insurance coverage changes to their employees. The new notice clarifies that those disclosure requirements also apply to businesses refusing to provide contraceptive coverage under the Hobby Lobby ruling (Bassett, Huffington Post, 7/17).

The notice -- posted on DOL's website as a "frequently asked question" about the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) -- says employer-sponsored health plans that previously covered contraceptives but have stopped doing so are subject to "expedited disclosure requirements for material reductions in covered services or benefits" (Wolf, USA Today, 7/17).

Democrats Propose Disclosure Bill

In related news, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) on Thursday proposed a measure that would require businesses to disclose any services guaranteed under the ACA they do not cover in their employer-sponsored health plans. If enacted, the legislation would apply retroactively to July 1.

According to The Hill, the bill would not apply to religious employers or religiously affiliated not-for-profit organizations that have received an exemption or accommodation related to the law's contraceptive coverage requirements.

The senators said, "At the very least, we cannot stand by and allow young women or single moms to take a job expecting to get the basic insurance coverage that the law requires, only to find out too late that the corporation is denying her that coverage."

They added that the "bill ensures that employees have the information they need to make smart decisions" (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 7/17).