The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that it will not allow an expanded religious exemption to the requirement for no co-pay birth control coverage that HHS ruled on in August. The administration’s exemption for insurance plans provided by houses of worship will remain in place. Conservative religious groups, including the influential US Conference of Catholic Bishops, wanted religiously affiliated groups like hospitals and universities to be able to opt out of covering birth control as well.
This is an important victory in the long battle to expand access to contraception. Religiously affiliated groups will have just one additional year to comply with the new rule – other groups will have to start offering no co-pay birth control next August.