WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- The White House welcomed Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear argument on the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.
"The healthcare law puts women and families in control of their healthcare by covering vital preventive care, like cancer screenings and birth control, free of charge," the White House said in a statement. "Earlier this year, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to consider a legal challenge to the healthcare law's requirement that for-profit corporations include birth control coverage in insurance available to their employees. We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women's health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree."
The justices consolidated two cases, one from Oklahoma, in which an appeals court ruled for challengers, and one from Pennsylvania, in which the Obama administration prevailed.
In the Oklahoma case, a federal appeals court said for-profit business owners, who are Baptists, were exempt from providing contraception insurance for their employers because of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In the Pennsylvania case, an appeals court ruled against a Pennsylvania furniture maker, owned by Mennonites, also seeking such protection.
The mandate is not in the language of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, but in regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services implementing the act.
Churches, their "integrated auxiliaries," and conventions or associations of houses of worship, are exempted from having to provide their employees with contraception coverage. Religious institutions not affiliated with a house of worship, such as hospitals, charities or schools, are not exempt, but under a compromise offered by the administration do not have to pay for contraceptive coverage. Their insurers have to pay for the coverage.
The consolidated case is likely to be heard by the justices late this term.
About 80 challenges have been filed against the contraception mandate; 40 of those were filed by for-profit business owners.