The Affordable Care Act is in the news again, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments brought by East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) and six other parties challenging a provision of the Act which requires employers to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees.
The issue at hand is whether or not religious nonprofit organizations should be required to provide contraception options for employees in their insurance plans, even if certain employers object to those contraceptives on religious grounds, KTBS reports.
Officials at ETBU argue that the provision requiring contraceptive coverage is inappropriate and representative of a government overstepping its designated responsibilities. However, since the rule applies to all employers and not just to religious organizations, it is not right that such organizations should be exempt from the rule.
In practice, the government has hardly 'overstepped' when it has come to actually implementing and enforcing this provision. Widely criticized when he initially pushed for the rule in 2012, President Obama eventually reversed himself and gave faith-based employers a year to adjust to the new policy, the American Humanist Association notes.
The President later tried to drive a compromise between both sides even further by exempting employers who are either openly religious or affiliated with religious organizations from the rule entirely but still requiring the costs of the contraceptives be covered by insurance companies.
Some may argue that it's not financially necessary or prudent for employers to provide contraceptive coverage on their insurance plans and that employees should pay for these things themselves, but this is an entirely different argument than the one made by the religious organizations opposed to the rule.
Ultimately, as it stands now, nonreligious employers have to pay these costs while religious organizations and affiliates do not. Whether one agrees with the notion of a right to comprehensive health coverage or not, it is entirely inappropriate to have two sets of rules for religious and nonreligious employers. It puts organizations currently following the rules at a disadvantage, legally and financially, and holds different employers to different standards purely on the basis of belief.