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Proposed rule would expand birth control access under Affordable Care Act

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Department of the Treasury and Department of Labor on Monday proposed a rule change under the Affordable Care Act that would eliminate the moral exemption that currently allows some healthcare providers to not provide access to brith control at no cost. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 2 | The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Department of the Treasury and Department of Labor on Monday proposed a rule change under the Affordable Care Act that would eliminate the moral exemption that currently allows some healthcare providers to not provide access to brith control at no cost. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule Monday that would reinforce access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The proposal was put forward jointly in conjunction with the Department of Labor and Department of the Treasury and would ensure access to free birth control for all women across the country.

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Women enrolled in group health plans or individual health insurance are entitled to preventive services, including birth control and related counseling at no cost, under the Affordable Care Act.

Expanded exemptions for religious and moral beliefs in 2018 allowed private health plan administrators to exclude contraception coverage.

Monday's proposal would remove the moral exemption, while keeping the religious exception in place.

"Now more than ever, access to and coverage of birth control is critical as the Biden-Harris Administration works to help ensure women everywhere can get the contraception they need, when they need it, and -- thanks to the ACA -- with no out-of-pocket cost," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Monday.

"Today's proposed rule works to ensure that the tens of millions of women across the country who have and will benefit from the ACA will be protected. It says to women across the country, we have your back."

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The proposed rule change would ensure women and their dependents have access to birth control at no extra cost.

"We know that access to affordable health care is vital. HHS, along with the Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury, continues to protect and promote access to the reproductive health care services people need, including contraception," Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement.

"If this rule is finalized, individuals who have health plans that would otherwise be subject to the ACA preventive services requirements but have not covered contraceptive services because of a moral or religious objection, would now have access."

In July, President Joe Biden signed an executive order protecting access to reproductive care, including birth control.

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