New York Backs Mandate for Contraceptive Coverage

, New York Law Journal

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New York State has signed on to an amicus brief arguing that for-profit private companies cannot evade the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraceptive coverage provision because of the personal religious beliefs of shareholders, directors and managers.

In a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court last week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in weighing in on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, 13-354, and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, 13-356. The amici argue that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) does not give private firms the right to opt out of the ACA contraceptive coverage provisions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Sebelius said businesses are entitled to an exemption, and the Third Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in the Conestoga Wood case. The Supreme Court will hear the cases March 25.

The amici contend that the ACA does not require corporate employers, shareholders or managers to endorse contraception or any other form of medical treatment.

"It requires only that employer health plans cover, among many other possible treatments or services, the cost of FDA-approved contraceptives for any employee who might make the personal choice to use them," according to the brief.

Also on the brief are California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

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