On November 7, 2018, the United States Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor announced two final rules that provide “conscience protections” to employers and individuals who have either a religious or a moral objection to health insurance that covers contraceptive methods. The rules allow employers with religious or moral objections to deny employees and their dependents contraceptive coverage, which is otherwise required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Legislation (ACR-209) denouncing the 2018 federal exemptions sponsored by Assemblymen Lou Greenwald and Raj Mukherji cleared the Assembly Health Committee on Monday.
“This rule change is an unnecessary attack by the Trump Administration on basic health care that many women rely upon. Blocking women’s access to the healthcare they choose and deserve based on another person’s beliefs is wrong and puts thousands of women at risk,” said Lou Greenwald. “We want to make it clear in New Jersey that we reject these attacks and will fight these hateful actions that threaten thousands of families across the state.”
The ACA’s contraception coverage mandate has made contraceptive methods accessible and affordable to millions of women and has significantly reduced out-of-pocket spending. Research has shown that, as a result of the ACA’s contraception coverage mandate, millions of American women have saved a total of at least $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket health care costs each year, with an average of over $250 in annual savings per contraceptive user. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the exemption for moral convictions will impact approximately 120,000 women.
“Restricting access to contraception threatens the health, economic well-being, and financial empowerment of women in New Jersey and across the United States,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “The Trump administration has taken many steps to dismantle the Affordable Care Act over the years. These rulings endanger the right of all women to choose for themselves and create their best lives.”
On May 2, 2019, President Trump announced an expanded “conscience protections” for the medical field, allowing physicians, nurses, pharmacists to deny care for an individual if they have a religious or conscience objection.
The bill will now head to the Assembly Speaker for further review.