The Times West Virginian

Headline News

July 3, 2014

Ruling impact on birth-control coverage mixed

NEW YORK — Business owners who don’t want to pay for their employees’ birth control are ending that coverage after the Supreme Court said they could choose on grounds of religious belief not to comply with part of the health care law.

Some owners are already in touch with their brokers in the wake of Monday’s ruling.

Triune Health Group Ltd. wants to know how soon it can change its coverage to stop paying for all contraceptives, said Mary Anne Yep, co-owner of the Oak Brook, Illinois company that provides medical management services.

“We were ready to go when we heard the decision,” she said. Triune had filed lawsuits against the U.S. government and the state of Illinois because of requirements that they pay for contraception.

The Supreme Court ruled that some businesses can, because of their religious beliefs, choose not to comply with the health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge. The 5-4 ruling has the Obama administration looking for another way to provide birth control for women who work for those companies.

The ruling applies to businesses that are closely held, generally defined as having five or fewer individuals owning more than 50 percent of the company’s stock. By some estimates, 90 percent of businesses are closely held and employ about half the nation’s workforce.

But many companies are likely to continue providing coverage for birth control — a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 85 percent of large employers already paid for contraceptives before the health care law required it.  Many owners believe it’s an important benefit that helps them attract and retain good workers.

Even employers who want to opt out of some forms of birth-control coverage see covering others as important.

“We want to provide for good health care for our people. We just don’t want to fund abortive procedures,” said Mike Sharrow, owner of C12 Group in San Antonio. His company, which provides faith-based counseling for business owners, has always paid for what he calls traditional forms of contraception, such as birth-control pills.

Business owners interviewed by The Associated Press that don’t want to pay for contraceptive coverage said their insurers were still trying to figure out how to change their policies. It’s possible employees might still be able to get birth-control coverage through their plans, but pay for that portion of their insurance themselves.

The contraceptives at issue in Monday’s decision are two known as morning-after pills, the emergency contraceptives Plan B and ella; and two intrauterine devices, which are implantable devices inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Many owners objected to them because they believe they may work after conception occurs. However, on Tuesday, the court left in place lower court rulings in other cases that allowed businesses to refuse to pay for all methods of government-approved contraception.

The case decided by the Supreme Court involved two companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. About 50 others also filed suit against the health care law’s contraception requirement. Some received court injunctions allowing them not to pay for birth control; the Supreme Court’s ruling is expected to allow them to continue that policy.

Weingartz Inc., which has five stores in Michigan selling lawn mowers and other outdoor equipment, stopped paying for all contraception, except when medically needed, since it won an injunction.

“We don’t believe anybody else shouldn’t have access to it. We just can’t pay for it,” said Dan Weingartz, the company’s president.

But Joe Holland Chevrolet in South Charleston, West Virginia, and Hastings Automotive Inc. in Hastings, Minnesota, opposed post-conception forms of birth control only, said Matt Bowman, an attorney representing both auto dealerships.

“Our clients have no problems with things that are truly contraceptive,” Bowman said.

Christian publisher Tyndale House Publishers Inc., which also filed a lawsuit, expects the Supreme Court ruling to clear the way for it to stop paying for morning-after pills and IUDs.

“We believe that those family businesses should have the religious freedom not to offer abortion-causing items through their employee health care program,” Tyndale CEO Mark Taylor said in a statement. The Carol Stream, Illinois, company publishes Christian books.

The businesses contacted by The Associated Press all said their greatest concern was the government forcing them to pay for something that goes against their religious beliefs.

“Framing this as an issue of contraception is wrong. It’s a battle against bullying by the government, telling us what to do,” said Yep, the Triune Health Group owner.

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • West Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    The worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 deaths in West Africa as the World Health Organization on Thursday announced dozens of new fatalities.

    July 31, 2014

  • Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Obama and other Democrats derided the effort as a stunt aimed at tossing political red meat to conservative voters.

    July 31, 2014

  • Obama takes tougher line against casualties in Gaza

    The Obama administration condemned the deadly shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza Wednesday, using tough, yet carefully worded language that reflects growing White House irritation with Israel and the mounting civilian casualties stemming from its ground and air war against Hamas.

    July 31, 2014

  • House approves VA overhaul

    The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care that have plagued the Veterans Affairs Department for years.
    The $16.3 billion measure also would allow the VA to hire thousands of doctors and nurses and rewrite employment rules to make it easier to fire senior executives judged to be negligent or performing poorly.

    July 31, 2014

  • Contract dispute delays ‘Big Bang Theory’ production

    Production on a new season of “The Big Bang Theory” is being delayed because of a contract dispute with its top actors.

    July 30, 2014

  • What’s a group selfie? An usie

    What do you call a group selfie? An usie, of course!

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate changes House bill for highway funds

    The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued transportation programs in recent years.

    July 29, 2014

  • State close to national average in credit card debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills.

    July 29, 2014

  • New VA secretary confirmed by Senate

    The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

    July 29, 2014

  • W.Va. man arrested after child found in hot car

    A Wheeling man faces charges that he left his 18-month-old daughter in a hot car while he was asleep on a couch.

    July 29, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads