“WASHINGTON — A two-page federal form has provoked a titanic clash between the government and many religious organizations.
The form allows some religious organizations to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage, which many insurers and group health plans are required to provide under the Affordable Care Act and related rules.
The opt-out sounds like a way to accommodate religious beliefs. But many religious employers like Wheaton College and the Little Sisters of the Poor are unwilling to sign the form. By signing it, they say, they would authorize their insurers or plan administrators to pay for contraceptives, including some that they believe may cause abortion.”

“The last round of oral argument in the most serious legal challenge to Obamacare’s insurance coverage subsidies ended over three months ago. Now the courthouse watch for a final ruling in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has neared a fever pitch.
Diehard defenders of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are worried that a three-judge panel is about to overturn an Internal Revenue Service rule issued in May 2012 that authorized distribution of insurance premium assistance tax credits in health exchanges administered by the federal government. By the end of a March 25 hearing on motions for summary judgment in Halbig v. Burwell, it appeared that two of the judges (a majority) were leaning toward agreeing with a group of private individuals and employers (who were appealing a federal district court ruling against them) that only an exchange “established by a state” is eligible for federal tax credits under the ACA.”

“WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama will focus on changes to the health care law that Mr. Boehner says should have been left to Congress, according to a statement issued Thursday by the speaker’s office.
By narrowly focusing the legal action on the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Boehner will sidestep the more politically problematic issue involving Mr. Obama’s executive action offering work permits for some illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
Last month, Mr. Boehner announced his intention to seek legislation allowing the House to sue the president over his use of executive actions, a reflection of charges by congressional Republicans that the president has overreached his authority. On Thursday, Mr. Boehner said the lawsuit would specifically challenge the president’s decision to delay imposing penalties on employers who do not offer health insurance to employees in compliance with the Affordable Care Act.”

“Supporters of ObamaCare are nervously awaiting a decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals that could have even more dramatic consequences for the law’s ability to function than the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decisions issued last week.
Judge Thomas B. Griffith presided in March over arguments in one of the four cases – Halbig v. Burwell – challenging the Obama administration’s decision that subsidies for health insurance can flow through federal as well as state exchanges.
The Affordable Care Act says that health insurance subsidies are available only “through an exchange Established by the State.” The IRS, however, interpreted the statute to mean that the subsidies also could be distributed in the now 36 states where the federal government is operating exchanges.
During oral arguments, Judge A. Raymond Randolph indicated he felt the statute was quite clear in repeating “seven times” in that section that the subsidies are available only if the state sets up its own exchange.”

“President Obama’s healthcare law could be dealt a severe blow this week if a U.S. appeals court rules that some low- and middle-income residents no longer qualify to receive promised government subsidies to pay for their health insurance.
The case revolves around a legal glitch in the wording of the Affordable Care Act, which as written says that such subsidies may be paid only if the insurance is purchased through an “exchange established by the state.”
That would seem to leave out the 36 states in which the exchanges are operated by the federal government.
A ruling could come as early as Tuesday.
The administration has argued that Congress intended to offer the subsidies nationwide to low-and middle-income people who bought insurance through an exchange, without making a distinction.”

“Planned Parenthood unveiled a text helpline Monday for women who have lost or will lose contraception coverage in their healthcare plans after last week’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling.
The pro-abortion rights group says women who have lost birth control coverage or have questions about their healthcare can text the helpline to learn about their options.
The Supreme Court ruled last week some employers could deny workers access to free contraception coverage under their health insurance plans if it would infringe on the employer’s religious beliefs.
The group says women can text “birth control” to 69866 to report an employer’s refusal to pay for coverage. Those who use the text service get an email or phone follow-up from Planned Parenthood explaining what options the worker has and help on how to get free birth control.”

“The Supreme Court’s ruling this week that “closely-held” companies like Hobby Lobby aren’t obligated to comply with the health law’s contraception mandate because it conflicts with their religious beliefs has put a renewed focus on the employer-sponsored healthcare.
Consumers getting their healthcare through their employers is a deeply ingrained practice in the United States (although that trend has been diminishing in recent years), and the court ruling has sparked all kinds of arguments pertaining to that the arrangement. Some have concluded that it will lead workers to seek alternatives outside the workplace, which they can find on the federal health exchanges created under Obamacare.
However, a new poll from Morning Consult found that the public isn’t there yet.
In fact, a strong majority of workers are worried that their employers will stop offering health insurance altogether and move them into the Obamacare exchanges. Workers with employer-sponsored health plans largely have a negative view of what such a move would mean for their coverage, and would even consider looking for a new job under that scenario, the poll found.”

“WASHINGTON — How much distance from an immoral act is enough?
That’s the difficult question behind the next legal dispute over religion, birth control and the health law that is likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court.
The issue in more than four dozen lawsuits from faith-affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals that oppose some or all contraception as immoral is how far the Obama administration must go to accommodate them.
The justices on June 30 relieved businesses with religious objections of their obligation to pay for women’s contraceptives among a range of preventive services the new law calls for in their health plans.
Religious-oriented nonprofit groups already could opt out of covering the contraceptives. But the organizations say the accommodation provided by the administration does not go far enough because, though they are not on the hook financially, they remain complicit in the provision of government-approved contraceptives to women covered by their plans”

“WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, reeling from back-to-back blows from the Supreme Court this week, is weighing options that would provide contraceptive coverage to thousands of women who are about to lose it or never had it because of their employers’ religious objections.
The administration must move fast. Legal and health care experts expect a rush to court involving scores of employers seeking to take advantage of the two decisions, one involving Hobby Lobby Stores, which affects for-profit businesses, and the other on Wheaton College that concerns religiously affiliated nonprofit groups. About 100 cases are pending.
One proposal the White House is studying would put companies’ insurers or health plan administrators on the spot for contraceptive coverage, with details of reimbursement to be worked out later.”

“The Supreme Court’s opinion Monday holding that some for-profit firms do not have to provide women the contraceptive coverage required under the Affordable Care Act if they have religious objections addressed only half of the ongoing legal battle over the birth control mandate.
But those on both sides of the issue think the court’s majority may have telegraphed which way it could rule when one of those other cases reaches the justices.
Depending on whose count you use, there are more than 50 other lawsuits still working their way toward the high court. They were filed by nonprofit groups, mostly religious educational and health organizations like universities and hospitals.”