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Monday, June 30, 2014

What Today’s Birth Control Ruling Means For The Health Law

Plan B One-Step is one type of emergency contraceptive. (Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc./AP)

Plan B One-Step is one type of emergency contraceptive. (Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc./AP)

What will it mean for the Affordable Care Act now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of businesses that don’t want to provide emergency contraceptives like Plan B to employees, as mandated by the law?

Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News discusses the implications of the ruling with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

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Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

Well, let's bring in Julie Rovner now of Kaiser Health News for more on this. And Julie, do we have any sense of how many women this decision is going to affect?

JULIE ROVNER: Well, no. And that's another thing the justices were arguing about. To read the majority opinion, it sounds like they're just talking about these closely held corporations and if you go to the IRS page that describes them, you know, in a very specific way. But again, if you to the dissent, the dissent says that these also include partnerships and sole proprietorships, which would cover many, many more employers. So this could be a very large universe of women that we're talking about. And again, I should probably go back and point out, it's not really the government who's paying for these - the birth control for the women who are exempted under the religious employers, it's actually the insurance companies. So you have another aspect of this that's going to confuse things even more as we go forward.

HOBSON: Well, what about this idea of the government filling the gap. This was brought up by Justice Kennedy - that maybe the government could pay for what these closely held companies aren't going to.

ROVNER: Well, that would be one possibility, but remember you're going to go back to this accommodation that people have been talking about that their giving to their religious universities and hospitals. That's actually putting it back on the insurance companies and the argument was that it would less expensive for the insurance companies to pay for the contraceptives than to pay for women who got pregnant - to carry pregnancies to term - that that would be more cost effective for the insurers. That was a fairly small universe of people. Again, it depends how large the universe is that we're talking about. If we're going to add a significant number of for-profit companies to this that insurers would then be asked to pay for, remember an IUD can cost $1000. It's a very effective form of birth control and one that many want to encourage more women to use, but I'm not sure in the insurance industry would really like to have that bill handed back to them to, you know, foot without premiums, and without employers paying their share of it.

HOBSON: Julie, are you expecting other challenges now on other grounds to try to make it so the people don't have to pay or companies don't have to pay for certain kinds of health coverage?

ROVNER: Well, that's again the big argument. The majority opinion tried to circumscribe that and say this would not necessarily apply if someone tried to have a religious, you know, argument against vaccines, for instance. And the dissent says this could open the flood gates to all manner of companies asserting religious arguments.

HOBSON: Well, we will have to see. Julie Rovner, senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News, joining us on this big day at the Supreme Court. Julie, thanks so much.

ROVNER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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