Reform Alert - News from the Blues' Office of National Health Reform

Supreme Court issues decision remanding contraceptive coverage case back to Courts of Appeals

June 1, 2016

On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to rule on Zubik v. Burwell, a case on whether the requirement to submit notification to the government that a religious non-profit objects to certain contraceptives substantially burdens the religious practices of the non-profit directly. 

In an unsigned per curiam decision, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the decisions of the Circuit Courts of Appeals and remanded the cases to those courts for reconsideration, so that "the parties on remand should be afforded the opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates petitioners' religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners' health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage."

What are the possible implications of this decision? 

The ultimate legal outcome and actual legal rights under the contraceptive mandate in providing contraceptive benefits are unknown for the government and non-profits. The appeals courts will likely order the filing of new briefs and hold new hearings before issuing new rulings. However, it is also possible that the government will modify existing regulations or write new ones to provide cost-free access to contraceptive services for employees and beneficiaries of non-profit religious organizations that do not want to cover those services without requiring the organizations to notify the government. 

Where can I find more information? 

The decision from the U.S. Supreme Court can be found here

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