The Trump administration is expected to introduce a regulation undoing an Obama-era provision that requires nearly all employers to cover birth control in their health plans. The regulation will broaden possible exemptions for employers, and it is reportedly to a similar draft that circulated a few months ago. Houses of worship have been the only employers entirely exempt from the mandate since it was established. In its Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision the Supreme Court ruled that "closely held" businesses could apply for exemption on religious grounds, but the two sides have still not reached a compromise after a series of legal battles. The new regulation would allow the exemption to apply to all businesses - small or large, private or public.
"By 2013, most women had no out-of-pocket costs for their contraception, as median expenses for most contraceptive methods, including the IUD and the pill, dropped to zero." - KFF
Under the new regulations, individuals could reject employer health plans that include contraceptive coverage. Health insurers would also retain the right to refuse to cover contraceptives, though the Trump administration notes that no insurer has plans to do so.
It's expected that the regulation would take effect as soon as it is published. That could present some legal problems, according to Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor:
“The argument they make is, ‘We’ve thoroughly vetted this issue, and we’re only making a minor change. If that was true, that argument would hold water. But that’s not true in this case," Bagley said to the WSJ.
"We've been dealing with this mandate for over six years now. A lot of people thought the administration would do something pretty quickly, yet here we are in August," said Hillary Byrnes, assistant general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.