UPDATE: Second judge blocks expansion of opt-out for ACA contraceptive mandate
UPDATE: A judge of the District Court for the Northern District of California issued a second injunction of the Trump administration's rollback of the contraception mandate Thursday, The Hill reports.
- A federal judge has temporarily enjoined the Trump administration's regulations allowing employers to opt out of free contraceptive coverage for women on moral or religious grounds, according to ABC News.
- The judge was especially critical of the policy's allowance of objections based on moral grounds, which she said may amount to the government imposing its morals on the rest of society.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rolled out the regs in October, expanding the waiver option, which was previously only available to certain religious employers. The court's injunction prevents the regulations' enforcement nationwide. Meanwhile, several states are suing the Trump administration over the policy.
As opponents, largely Republican lawmakers, vowed to undo the ACA, many employers said they would keep the benefits employees like.
Free contraceptives is a popular benefit among employees and therefore not likely to disappear. A Willis Tower Watson survey issued in June shows that 59% of employers said they would keep the contraceptive benefit, whether the ACA was changed, replaced or repealed. Employers sometimes struggle with providing the benefits workers say they want or need, so eliminating popular benefits could prove to be a setback for employee engagement and retention.
HHS only expected about 200 employers (those that have filed suits over the requirements) to pursue waivers, it told NPR; one expert, however, said there are likely others who did not want the publicity and expense that comes with suing the government.