Ruling won’t alter birth-control coverage for many

By From page A1 | July 03, 2014

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, which has 80 employees, 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 labor force of more than 155 million.

While employers are not yet required to provide insurance under the health care law, many closely held companies do, and under the health care law, insurance is required to include contraceptive benefits. However, it’s not known how many closely-held companies offer insurance, how many workers they have and how many companies plan to stop paying for contraception.

But it’s likely many companies will continue providing coverage for birth control, which would reduce the number of affected workers. 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, with six employees. 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 is 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.Hobby Lobby has more than 15,000 full-time employees while Conestoga has about 950. Hobby Lobby is by far the largest employer among the 50 or so for-profits that sued.

Some of the companies that have sued 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. The company has about 170 employees.

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.


The Associated Press

The Associated Press


Discussion | 20 comments

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  • PornacJuly 03, 2014 - 7:32 am

    Corporate religious objection to contraceptives is just dandy now. How dare anyone ever stand in the way of for-profit religious rights? Alito didn't really care if the argument was scientifically valid, just that the corporation believed it was against their religious beliefs. Will spaghetti eating bans be next for an atheist corporation? This will be fun to watch!

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  • Teach5thJuly 03, 2014 - 10:34 am

    Geez - did you even read the story or are you basing what you wrote on Hillary's comments? Hobby Lobby's insurers offer 16 - that's sixteen - types of contraception. They just don't believe in abortion-provoking types (4) so they don't offer those. Again, the liberal press and Dems are doing a great job of lying about the ruling!!!

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  • Jason KnowlesJuly 03, 2014 - 12:47 pm

    And the fact that NONE of the four types to which they object actually induce abortions but rather prevent fertilization is meaningless to you, "Teach?" Then again, considering your previous posts, you have a rather specious relationship with scienctific facts, so I shouldn't be surprised.

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  • Teach5thJuly 03, 2014 - 4:28 pm

    Jason - You're wrong. The four types don't stop fertilization. The fertilized egg (the embryo with all the parts necessary to develop into a human being) is stopped from implantation. Consequently, this is considered an abortion and not something Hobby Lobby supports.

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  • Jason KnowlesJuly 03, 2014 - 6:37 pm

    Read this please: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/03/27/plan-b-and-ella-are-not-abortifacients-but-false-claims-may-hold-up-in-court/

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  • JimboJuly 03, 2014 - 9:20 pm

    Do you so called 'christians' get thrills creating lies to tell each other? No health insurance or any clinic anywhere in America is 'provoking' abortions. The absurdity of that statement speaks volumes about its author.

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  • Teach5thJuly 03, 2014 - 8:31 am

    Listening to a number of folks discuss topics which they haven't real knowledge about is frustrating. But, what is really more frustrating is when people that should know better (like atty. Hillary Clinton) pander to ignorant folks to rile them up and lie about the rulings from the Supreme Court. The truth is that Hobby Lobby doesn't want their insurance to cover just 4 kinds of contraception. Their insurance co. still covers 16 other types, but I doubt you would find that info. In any of the 1st few paragraphs of the stories.

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  • patrickJuly 03, 2014 - 1:25 pm

    Prohibition (the 18th amendment) with general acceptance by the public and ended in 1933 as the result of the public's annoyance of the law and the ever-increasing enforcement nightmare. The feds don't seem to understand that Americans do not care to be told you HAVE TO DO THIS or YOU MUST NOT DO THAT. The sooner we get the feds out of the health care business the sooner we can return to a normal life.

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  • JimboJuly 03, 2014 - 9:22 pm

    Fine, you go to an unregulated doctor for untested drugs, just do not expect others to be so silly.

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  • Jason KnowlesJuly 03, 2014 - 8:52 pm

    A fertilized egg is called an "embryo" and is stopped from implantation? Little science lesson: a fertilized egg is called a zygote. It can only become a fetus AFTER implantation In the wall of the uterus. According to peer-reviewed scientific medical journals, Plan B, Ella, and the IUD prevent ovulation, they do not induce abortions. Huge difference.

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  • JimboJuly 03, 2014 - 9:23 pm

    Science has a liberal bias according to that same lot.

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  • Teach5thJuly 03, 2014 - 9:25 pm

    A fertilized egg can also e termed a one cell embryo.

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  • The SugarJarJuly 03, 2014 - 9:36 pm

    The zygote can also be called a Ferris wheel--but that would not be correct either. Hobby Lobby owners, perhaps, are against abortion and anything preventing implantation of the fertilized egg (or preferred name, scientifically accurate or not). Just makes me wonder what's next.

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  • Jason KnowlesJuly 03, 2014 - 9:51 pm

    SugarJar, then why do they cover the 16 other types?

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  • The SugarJarJuly 03, 2014 - 10:24 pm

    @Jason, I don't think it is logic. And trying to explain the Hobby Lobby expressed thought doesn't work for me as logic. Logically it doesn't make sense. I am very bothered by claiming religous belief for acts that push those beliefs as action against others. To me claiming nonimplantation is abortion or abortion-likelike is inaccurate. They are playing free and loose with meanings. But they tainted the argument with the claim that it's their religious belief. So the way it makes "sense" is in a big swirl of emotion. Arghh. Very bothered by this Supreme Court decision.

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  • The SugarJarJuly 03, 2014 - 10:43 pm

    @Jason Knowles, I realized I didn't answer your question in my rant (and I was very familiar with you, calling you Jason). This still might not do it but if Hobby Lobby is okay covering birth control that separates the egg and the sperm (pre-possible future born human) but isn't okay for that which allows those two to get together (possible future born human) yet prevents implantation (implantation necessary to possible future born human status), it follows (for me) that is why they use (misuse) the term abortion. The abortion tie-in is part of that swirl of stuff that worked for them at the Supreme Court level. Again, I think it is disingenuous, a stretch and misuse of religious protection, and s**ks.

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  • Jason KnowlesJuly 03, 2014 - 9:54 pm

    "Teach" look up the word "blastocyst." I'll wait...

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  • JimboJuly 03, 2014 - 9:16 pm

    Hypocracy- Complaining that "paying for birth control' goes against your religious beliefs while expecting non-christian taxpayers to pay for your churches.

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  • Rick WoodJuly 04, 2014 - 6:26 am

    It's said that good facts make bad law. The problem with this decision is the precedent it sets. It's a launching pad for all sorts of new free exercise of religion cases.

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  • CD BrooksJuly 04, 2014 - 7:54 am

    Obviously nobody learned the lessons from the "religious freedoms" mess across the country. If you believe for an instant this is only about abortion, you are seriously mistaken.This IS the proverbial snowball, the chipping away of established legal practices. This act opens the door for all out discrimination based on faith. As I stated previously, the abuse will be blatant and flies in the face of decency and all citizens’ equality under the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Judges' decision is tragic and it won’t take long for the results to come pouring in.

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