(CNSNews.com) – The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that requires insurers to cover abortion-inducing drugs and devices, sterilizations, and contraceptives without cost-sharing is still in effect under the Trump administration, which means many Americans who object to these procedures on moral or religious grounds are still compelled to subsidize them for others through their health insurance premiums and taxes.
The contraceptive mandate is a regulation that was ordered in 2011 by the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services. It forces most insurance plans to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortion drugs, and — given that Obamacare forces taxpayers to subsidize insurance premiums for people with incomes under 400 percent of the federal poverty level — it forces taxpayers, regardless of their own moral or religious beliefs, to underwrite this coverage for others.
Some exemptions to the mandate have been allowed and some exemptions have been ordered through the courts for specific businesses, such as Hobby Lobby and EWTN. Also, the Trump administration’s HHS announced on Nov. 7 two new rules to expand exemptions for non-profit groups and small businesses with religious or moral objections.
Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of Americans are forced to subsidize these products and services, even if they violate their religious beliefs.
As the HHS explained on Nov. 7, the newest exemptions would affect “no more than approximately 200 employers.”
"The Departments [HHS, Treasury, and Labor] estimate the exemptions may affect the coverage of approximately 6,400 women, and state that in no case will they impact more than 127,000 women, which the Departments suggest is far more than will actually be impacted," stated the HHS in its Nov. 7 press release.
Further, “these rules affect a small fraction of the 165 million women in the U.S.," said HHS. "The rules leave in place contraceptive coverage guidelines where no religious or moral objection exists, and they do not change the Health Resources and Services Administration’s authority to decide whether to include contraceptives in the women’s preventative services guidelines for other entities,” the HHS Department stated.
The exemptions do not apply to publicly traded businesses, such as Starbucks, WalMart, or Apple, and neither exemption will apply to government entities.
During October, approximately 22,397,000 Americans worked for federal, state or local governments, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All of these individuals with government healthcare plans must subsidize other people’s contraceptive services, even if they personally object.
Also, the new rules do not alter federal programs that use taxpayer dollars to fund contraception.
“These rules also do not change the many other mechanisms by which the Government advances contraceptive coverage, particularly for low-income women, including through such programs as Medicaid and Title X,” the HHS Department wrote.
As the HHS Department noted, Congress gave the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) the “discretion” to create and maintain guidelines that determine the types of “women’s preventative care and screenings” health insurers must cover.
Although “Congress did not mandate contraceptive coverage” and “the Government is under no constitutional obligation to fund contraception,” as the HHS Department itself pointed out, the HRSA chose to require coverage of contraceptives.
This means the HRSA, which is part of the HHS Department, could also end the contraceptive mandate -- if it chose to do so.
When CNSNews.com asked the HHS Department why it had declined to remove the contraceptive mandate altogether, an HHS spokeswoman did not answer but referred CNSNews.com to a fact sheet and press release about the new rules.
In the rule concerning moral exemptions, the HHS Department said it lacked “certain information about whether there is a need to extend the expanded exemption to publicly traded entities.”