WASHINGTON, DC (June 19, 2014)—The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision in the next week or so on two cases that center on the question of religious freedom and the so-called contraceptive mandate—a provision in the Affordable Care Act that says that coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods is a guaranteed preventive benefit, available without cost-sharing, for women enrolled in non-grandfathered health plans, regardless of whether their coverage is secured in the employer-sponsored or the individual market. Two large, for-profit employers Hobby Lobby (a nationwide arts-and-crafts company) and the Conestoga Wood Specialties (a furniture maker) sued the federal government, claiming that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) they are exempt from such a requirement, because coverage of certain contraceptive methods runs counter to their religious beliefs. If the companies win, the Supreme Court will hold that for the first time, the religious views of the owners of private companies can trump guaranteed employee health care rights. The decision would have enormous implications for a broad array of workplace protections.
Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University has experts available to comment on the issues involved in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Woods case. To schedule an interview with the following experts, please contact Kathy Fackelmann, the director of media relations at Milken Institute SPH, at email@example.com or 202-994-8354.
Susan F. Wood, PhD, associate professor of health policy and executive director of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health at the Milken Institute SPH. Professor Wood can talk about the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on women and their families. Her background includes a previous position at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a job she held until 2005 when she resigned on principle over the delays in approving emergency over-the-counter contraception. Recently, Woods and the Jacobs Institute joined an amicus brief filed by four major medical groups arguing against the religious exemption sought by the for-profit companies in this case.
Sara Rosenbaum, JD, professor of health policy and the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy. Professor Rosenbaum is a legal expert on the Affordable Care Act. With the Guttmacher Institute, Professor Rosenbaum filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court that sides with the Obama Administration on the case. In that brief, the amici argue that that contraception plays such a crucial role in the lives and health of women and their children and families that the government has a compelling interest in overriding any religious shield that might be found to exist in order to ensure women coverage through their plans.
About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University: Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, nearly 1,400 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 43 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.