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Federal Judge Rules Mich. Company Does Not Have To Offer Contraceptive Coverage

Federal Judge Rules Mich. Company Does Not Have To Offer Contraceptive Coverage

January 7, 2015 — A federal judge on Monday ruled that a Michigan-based company, Autocam, is not required to comply with the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) contraceptive coverage rules because its objections are covered under the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, the AP/Detroit News reports (AP/Detroit News, 1/7).

Background

Autocam CEO John Kennedy and his family argued that the rules force them to choose between their Catholic beliefs and substantial financial penalties for not complying with the coverage requirements. The Kennedys own a controlling interest in two Michigan manufacturing companies, Autocam and Autocam Medical.

A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September 2013 that the Kennedys could not challenge the contraceptive coverage rules because the "decision to comply with the mandate falls on Autocam, not the Kennedys." The judges said this distinction means that the "Kennedys cannot bring their claims in their individual capacities under the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act (PL 103-141)], nor can Autocam assert the Kennedys' claims on their behalf."

After that ruling, Kennedy in October 2013 filed a petition with the Supreme Court requesting that it review the company's case and overturn the lower court's decision (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/18/13).

In June 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees if the corporations' owners have religious objections to contraception (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/30/14). Following the ruling, the high court ordered the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling against Autocam (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/2/14).