During his presidential campaign, Trump made the promise to roll back the Birth Control Mandate of the so-called “Affordable Care Act” for religious employers. Trump promised to last October to “make absolutely certain religious orders like Little Sisters of the Poor are not bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs.” Now, it appears that he is making good on that promise by instructing federal officials to draft a rule that would allow religious employers to opt out of the Mandate in their healthcare options offered to their employees.
The Mandate requiring that all employers offer abortion inducing contraceptives was one of the most controversial tenets of Obamacare that rose to national attention through challenges to mandate by organizations such as Hobby Lobby, and Little Sister’s of the Poor, who refused to offer their employees healthcare plans that included paying for contraceptives and abortifacients that ended life after conception. Hobby Lobby’s decision to stand for morality cost them millions in fines and threatened to put them out of business. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ended up striking down this key portion of Obamacare in 2014, siding with Hobby Lobby and ruling that businesses should not and cannot be required to offer contraceptive coverage to their employees if the contraceptives violate the business owner’s sincerely held religious beliefs. To do so would be a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
This action from the Trump administration is unsurprising considering his White House Rose Garden ceremony, in which he celebrated the faith of the Little Sisters of the Poor, even inviting the Sisters up on the dais with him. On May 4, Trump issued a religious liberty executive order to look into proposed changes to healthcare regulations that would be more conducive to faith based organizations and the religious liberty of employers. The executive order referred specifically to a portion of the ACA that covers contraceptive services. “With this executive order, we are ending attacks on your religious liberty,” Trump said.
On it’s website, the White House Office of Management and Budget said it is reviewing an “interim final rule” to relax the requirement. The rule could become effective as soon as it is published in the Federal Register. California Family Council hopes that the Trump administration will indeed take swift and decisive action to stop the punishment of hard working businesses owners, pastors, and organizations for merely living according to their faith.