Closely held, for-profit corporations whose owners have religious objections to certain forms of birth control do not have to comply with Health and Human Services regulations that all FDA-approved contraceptive methods are preventive services that must be covered by nongrandfathered plans, the US Supreme Court has ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. (June 30, 2014). The majority cautions its ruling is limited to the facts before it, and doesn’t validate religious objections to other ACA mandates, such as coverage of vaccines, or apply to all public corporations. With respect to contraceptive services, the decision finds that other means — such as expanding the current accommodation granted nonprofit religious organizations — could achieve the mandate’s goal without curtailing religious liberty.
Congressional Democrats and the White House are pushing for legislative action in the wake of the ruling, but any changes to the law are unlikely given Republican control of the House. The administration is exploring whether and how to extend the current accommodation for nonprofit religious groups to affected businesses. Whether businesses would accept that approach, which is the subject of other pending lawsuits, is an open question.