Expanded Moral Exemptions to ACA’s Contraception Mandate Struck Down Again


All Employers Subject to the ACA


July 12, 2019


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In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. President of the United States, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal stated that the Trump administration’s rules expanding employer exemptions to the contraceptive mandate for religious or moral objections were not enforceable. Specifically, the final rules failed to follow the proper administrative procedures for enacting rules, because no public comment period was offered. Additionally, the court stated that the rules were not authorized by law, making them arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.

The contraceptive mandate requires employers to cover the cost of contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA provides an exemption to the mandate for churches and similar religious organizations. The expanded exemptions in the final rules would also cover nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations, higher education institutions (for both employees and students), insurers, and individuals in varying degrees.

The injunction upheld by the Third Circuit covers all employers nationwide. However, an injunction against enforcing the contraception mandate altogether was issued in June 2019 by a federal judge in Texas, which applied nationwide to any entities or individuals who object to the mandate for religious reasons. Other challenges to the final rules are still pending in other jurisdictions. Challenges to the interim final rules, which were largely the same as the final rules, were also successful across the states. With these varying injunctions in place across the country, objecting employers are well advised to review the issue with their attorney before refusing to comply with the mandate.

Action Items

  1. If objecting to the contraception mandate, employers should review the requirements with legal counsel.
  2. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2019 ManagEase

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