Last week, the White House quietly announced a new rule had been drafted to rewrite the federal mandate requiring most employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control. But few people outside the administration have seen that rule — and that may not change before it goes into effect.
“We expect this rule to take birth control coverage away from women,” said Gretchen Borchelt, vice president of nonprofit advocacy group the National Women’s Law Center. She said that although the rule has already undergone several lawsuits and rounds of public debate, the “administration… is going to reopen this rulemaking and change it. That is not the way this process should work.”
In early May executive order “promoting free speech and religious liberty,” President Donald Trump directed the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services departments to seek to “address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate” of the Affordable Care Act. Hours later, Health Secretary Tom Price made it clear how exactly his department would carry out the president’s directive: by reexamining the “contraception mandate.”
The new rule’s exact details remain unknown, but it is currently listed on the Office of Management and Budget’s website as being an “interim final rule.” Those typically go into effect as soon as they’re published; the Obama administration altered the contraception coverage rules at least twice in that way, first in 2011 and again in 2015.
“The thing that makes this so troubling is that [the administration] is doing it without any opportunity for debate,” said Kaylie Hanson Long, national communications director at NARAL Pro-Choice. “It’s not transparent whatsoever.”
Women across the country overwhelmingly support the current version of the rules dictating birth control coverage, which were outlined by Department of Health and Human Services…