December 17, 2012 — An attorney defending the Obama administration on Friday stated in court that HHS would release new regulations regarding the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) contraceptive coverage requirements during the first three months of 2013, and asked that lawsuits against the law be put on hold until then, Politico reports (Norman, Politico, 12/17).
The law requires health plans issued or renewed after Aug. 1 to cover contraceptive services without copayments or deductibles. HHS has given religiously affiliated entities, such as colleges and hospitals, a one-year delay period to come into compliance, and religious institutions, such as churches and synagogues, are exempt altogether (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/12).
Adam Jed, a DOJ attorney, said that HHS will finalize rules offering further accommodations to religious employers in August 2013 before the delay period expires (Politico, 12/17).
The federal government specifically asked that the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia delay cases by Wheaton College in Illinois and Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina.
The Becket Fund -- which is representing the organizations -- said the groups already are being harmed by the law because they cannot determine which insurance plans to offer their employees (Radnofsky, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 12/14). Kyle Duncan, the groups' attorney, also argued that the draft rules will not protect Wheaton and Belmont from private lawsuits that could begin on Jan. 1, 2013.
Two members of the three-judge panel hearing the case indicated that they might send the cases back to district courts until the final rule is issued (Politico, 12/17).
Domino's Challenges Contraception Rules
In related news, Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan on Friday filed a lawsuit in federal court against the contraceptive coverage rules, saying that using birth control is a "gravely immoral" practice.
Monaghan currently offers his employees health coverage that does not cover contraception or abortion (AP/Christian Science Monitor, 12/16).