Nonprofit religious organizations, including colleges and universities, that object to providing contraceptive coverage will not have to authorize coverage under their health plans. Instead, they will have to notify the Department of Health and Human Services of their objection, according to an August 27 interim final rule issued jointly by HHS and the Departments of Labor and Treasury.
Rules for Nonprofit Religious Organizations. The interim final regulations allow nonprofit religious employers to notify HHS in writing of their religious objection to providing contraceptive coverage. HHS and the Department of Labor will then notify insurers and third-party administrators so that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage for contraceptive services at no additional cost to the enrollee or the employer.
Previously, under rules issued on July 2, 2013, religious institutions needed to provide notice of their objections to contraceptive coverage to their insurer or third-party administrator.
While the agencies solicited comments on the interim final rule, the rule took effect August 27. On the same day, the agencies issued a proposed rule seeking comments on possible accommodations for certain for-profit organizations in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.
According to an HHS press release, the administration "continues to encourage Congress to act to ensure that women affected by the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision have access to the same coverage options offered to others, while it begins the process of soliciting feedback to determine how, through rulemaking, it can ensure that the religious concerns of organizations are respected and women are able to get coverage of recommended preventive services without cost sharing, as intended under the health care law."