Though churches and other places of worship are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that insurers provide birth control coverage, institutions with religious affiliations that provide services to the public are not exempt. Health plan administrators for these institutions must provide birth control coverage to employees. However, religious groups may sign a government form objecting to the coverage and submit it to their health plan administrators, in order to “distance” themselves from perceived violations of their religious tenets. A group of nuns, the Little Sisters, run a nursing home in Denver, and they object to this compromise. The nuns maintain that signing the form makes them “complicit in providing contraceptive coverage.”
The case now awaits a decision in the 10th Circuit, which will determine whether the Little Sisters must provide contraceptive coverage under the ACA. While the appeal is pending, the Supreme Court has dictated that the nuns do not have to sign the government form objecting to the coverage. Instead, the Court requested that the Little Sisters make their objection in writing to the Department of Health and Human Services, and do not need to provide copies to the administrator of their health plan.
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