This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the biggest challenge to date of President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.
At issue is whether for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby can seek exemption based on religious beliefs from complying with the ACA’s requirement that all companies that offer health insurance to their employees must provide specific benefits, including birth control.
Hobby Lobby’s argument is that their religious beliefs are counter to what the ACA requires as they believe certain types of birth control terminate pregnancies rather than prevent them.
Dr. Jennifer Bard, a professor in the School of Law at Texas Tech University and an adjunct associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the Texas Tech School of Medicine, is available to speak on the matter regarding the effects the Supreme Court’s ruling could have. Bard is a regular contributor to Harvard Law’s “Bill of Health” blog and has recently written an entry on the subject matter.
• “It is likely that this decision will address … the limits of a law passed by Congress in 1993 to overrule an earlier Supreme Court decision, Employment Division v. Smith, holding that so long as a law passed by the federal government ‘applied to everyone,’ everyone was required to follow it even if it interfered with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
• “What the Affordable Care Act did was set standards for insurance just like there are standards for food and drug products. The effect is there are no ‘junk’ plans. Every health insurance plan has to cover 10 essential benefits including vaccinations, annual exams, contraception and pregnancy costs.”
• “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) essentially reverses Employment Division v. Smith by stating that even if a law applies to everyone, if it substantially burdens anyone’s sincerely held religious beliefs, the government has to show a compelling reason for the law and has to show that the law is the least restrictive way of achieving the law’s goals.”
• “Until now, there has never been a case where the ‘company’ had religious beliefs
Dr. Jennifer Bard, professor in the Texas Tech School of Law and adjunct associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the Texas Tech School of Medicine, Texas Tech University, (806) 834-1950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.