QUOTED: Rachel Morrison on Moral Objections to Contraceptive Coverage

February 28, 2023 | Bloomberg Law

On February 28, Rachel N. Morrison, director of the HHS Accountability Project, was quoted in Bloomberg Law about the Biden administration’s push to stop private health plans from using moral objections to avoid covering contraceptive services.

The 2018 rules also allow employers and private colleges and universities that object to covering contraceptive services to “completely remove themselves” from doing so, while ensuring that women “enrolled in their plans can access contraceptive services at no additional charge,” a CMS press release explained. But “these women and covered dependents” would only get this contraceptive access under the 2018 rule “if their employer or college or university voluntarily elects the accommodation,” the release said. That could leave “many without access to no-cost contraceptives,” the release added.

To address this potential loophole, the new proposed rule would create a pathway that allows “individuals enrolled in plans arranged or offered by objecting entities” to “make their own choice to access contraceptive services directly through a willing contraceptive provider without any cost,” the release said.

“This would allow women and covered dependents to navigate their own care and still obtain birth control at no cost in the event their plan or insurer has a religious exemption and, if eligible, has not elected the optional accommodation.”

But “there’s no good reason why that mechanism could not be provided for women who are employed by those who have moral objections, as well,” said Rachel Morrison, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who directs the center’s HHS Accountability Project.

“In America we have a long history of respecting moral objections,” Morrison added. “Especially when it comes to health care and issues related to life” like abortion and sterilization. “There’s robust protections for conscience rights, and this is a context where that should be recognized as well,” Morrison said.

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