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Ranjan Jindal
By Ranjan Jindal June 17, 2024

Biden introduces proposal to restore ACA contraception mandate

The Biden administration is proposing a key step to improve contraception access under the Affordable Care Act, as reproductive rights are a pressing political issue. 

It proposed a rule on Jan. 30, 2023, that would not allow employers to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage for "moral reasons."

The Affordable Care Act — which covers roughly 45 million Americans — guarantees contraceptive coverage for women in group or individual health insurance plans. 

But a Trump-era policy gave employers the option to refuse birth control coverage within their employees' health insurance for moral or religious reasons. Biden campaigned on a promise to reverse this policy and restore the birth control coverage mandate. 

Under Biden's proposed rule, houses of worship and nonprofits with religious missions could still exempt themselves from supplying birth control. However, the rule would create an "individual contraceptive arrangement" so their employees can get contraception access through a third-party provider. The objecting organization would not be involved and the birth control would still be covered. 

The Department of Health and Human Services is still working to finalize the agreement and, according to the Office of Management and Budget, the timetable for the rule to be issued starts in August 2024

The Biden administration also published an executive order in June 2023 ordering the secretaries of labor, treasury and health and human services to further protect access to contraception, along with promoting emergency and over-the-counter birth control. 

Right to Contraception Act

Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, which ruled against abortion as a federal right, suggested that the U.S. Supreme Court could revisit cases including Griswold v. Connecticut, which deemed state bans on contraception unconstitutional. This led Senate Democrats to consider codifying birth control protection into federal law. 

The Senate on June 7 failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass the Right to Contraception Act, with every Republican except Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voting against the measure. 

Although contraception is legal in all 50 states, the bill would have given federal protection to birth control rights. The bill only focused on the right to contraception, and not coverage under the Affordable Care Act. 

Senate Republicans claim that the legislation is unnecessary because there is no active ban in states or a threat to overturn Griswold. Some politicians have also called the bill a "messaging" stunt ahead of the election. 

Our ruling

We will check on Biden's progress if the final rule goes into effect, but for now we continue to rate this promise In The Works.

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Our Sources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, In Celebration of 10 Years of ACA Marketplaces, the Biden-Harris Administration Releases Historic Enrollment Data, March 22, 2024

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Biden-Harris Administration Proposes New Rules to Expand Access to Birth Control Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act, January 30, 2023

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Biden-Harris Administration Proposes New Rules to Expand Access to Birth Control Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act, January 30, 2023

Office of Management and Budget, Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act, Fall 2023

White House, Executive Order on Strengthening Access to Affordable, High-Quality Contraception and Family Planning Services, June 30, 2023

IBIS Reproductive Health, Biden issues executive order on improving access to contraception | Ibis Reproductive Health, June 30, 2023

Politico, Justice Thomas: SCOTUS 'should reconsider' contraception, same-sex marriage rulings, June 24, 2022, Right to Contraception Act, June 14, 2023

NBC News, Senate Republicans block bill to protect access to contraception, June 5, 2024

Phone interview with Laurie Sobel, Associate Director, Women's Health Policy, Kaiser Family Foundation

Email interview, Gretchen Borchelt, Vice President for Reproductive Rights and Health, National Women's Law Center, June 11, 2024

White House, Statement to PolitiFact, June 10, 2024

Department of Health and Human Services, Statement to PolitiFact, June 12, 2024

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 6, 2022

Administration signals new proposed rule on contraception in 2022

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised to overturn restrictions on contraception enacted in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump.

The Trump-era rule change made it easier for employers to deny coverage of certain types of contraception in their employees' health insurance plans. Previously, the law allowed houses of worship to choose not to cover such services in their insurance plans. The Trump-era rule expanded this option to deny coverage to any entity exercising a religious or moral exemption, rather than just houses of worship.

The Biden administration hasn't overturned this rule yet, but it has gone on record saying that it will initiate that process in 2022.

Three departments — Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury — released a joint memo about this provision on Aug. 16, 2021.

The departments "intend to initiate rulemaking within six months," the memo said.

A listing by the Office of Management and Budget pegs February 2022 as the estimated date when the rulemaking process will begin. 

Because official reconsideration of the Trump-era rule is on the calendar for early 2022, we rate this promise In the Works.

Our Sources

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