Friday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced final rules that make sure women have access to recommended preventative services, including contraceptive services, at no additional cost as requirement by the Affordable Care Act.
"Women across the country should have access to preventive services, including contraception," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell. "At the same time, we recognize the deeply held views on these issues, and we are committed to securing women's access to important preventive services at no additional cost under the Affordable Care Act, while respecting religious beliefs."
The interim final rules were finalized by HHS, the Department of Labor and the Department of the treasury establishing an alternative way for eligible organizations that have a religious objection to covering contraceptive services "to seek an accommodation from contracting, providing, paying, or referring for such services." In addition eligible organizations are permitted to notify HHS in writing of their religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage, as an alternative to filling out the form provided by the Department of Labor to provide their issuer or third-party administrator. The announcement explains that HHS and the Department of Labor will then notify insurers and third party administrators of the organization's objection so that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate payments for contraceptive services, with no additional cost to the enrollee or organization, and no involvement by the organization.
Relying on a definition used in federal tax law, the final rules define a "closely held for-profit entity" as an entity that is not publicly traded and that has an ownership structure under which more than 50 percent of the organization's ownership interest is owned by five or fewer individuals, or an entity with a substantially similar ownership structure.
The rules finalize standards concerning documentation and disclosure of a closely held for-profit entity's decision not to provide coverage for contraceptive services.
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