skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Contraception Coverage Still Required In California Despite SCOTUS Ruling

Contraception coverage will still be available to California employees of Hobby Lobby and other private family-owned businesses who object on religious grounds — despite Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Special Feature Closely Held Companies Can Refuse To Cover Contraception, Supreme Court Says

KPBS Evening Edition host Amita Sharma speaks with Glenn Smith, a constitutional law professor at California Western School of Law and Susan Channick, law professor and co-director of California Western School of Law's Institute for Health Law Studies, about the Supreme Court ruling that some companies can refuse to cover contraception.

The ruling appears to have left intact a 15-year-old California law called the California Women’s Contraceptive Equity Act, signed by Gov. Gray Davis in 1999.

“It ensures that insurance companies must provide coverage for a variety of FDA-approved contraception,” says Planned Parenthood chief counsel Beth Parker.

She says the California law survives the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and it covers employees, spouses and dependents – even teenage daughters – with exemptions only for self-insured and non-profit religious employers.

What it doesn’t cover are co-pays. “So as a result, even though women can get health care coverage of contraception in California, they now may have to co-pay for it,” Parker says.

A bill at the state Capitol would require co-pays to be covered as well. It passed the Senate earlier this year and is now in the Assembly.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the plaintiffs’ legal groups, declined comment until it can review the Supreme Court ruling’s effect on the California law.

Comments

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | July 1, 2014 at 8:06 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Contraception was never unavailable. They can go to the store and buy it. The government can't force people to buy abortion pills for their employees.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 1, 2014 at 9:50 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Moral judgement about medical decisions should be made by an individual, their doctor, and their family - not by fundamentalist wealthy company heads who want to dictate their "morals" onto their employees.

The ACA provides for health care plans, and it should be MEDICAL advice from a doctor that determines what people should and should not receive via their insurance plans, not politically active theocratic judgmental corporate shills like the hobby lobby folks.

As we know from living in San Diego, a biotechnology hub, the future of medicine involves precision, targeted therapies often using gene therapy or even stem cell research.

There will always be conservative religious groups who think things are moving too fast, and who will claim God doesn't want us to cure diabetes or improve the survival rates for cancer, should they be able to dictate the health care in the country?

The SCOTUS, in their very irresponsible decision, has opened the door to every religious crackpot who has some fringe notion about medicine to now have legal ground to challenge based on their beliefs.

I encourage people to dig deeper than media summaries on this issue.

READ the opinions the justices put out.

They are pretty frightening.

In her dissent, Justice Ginsberg discusses the possible implications here and how this decision could have sweeping impacts.

In the majority opinion, Alito refutes her claims by declaring this as being narrowly limited only to contraception, but - and this is the important part - he gives no legal basis for how this will only be limited to contraception.

It's a dreadful reasoning by the majority.

The one bright light is that some states do apparently have recourse and we live in one of them.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 1, 2014 at 1:01 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This article highlights states' rights and I am pleased to see it!

The ACA is now (at least in part) unconstitutional, but it can be enacted by the states individually, if they wish.

That is the way all federal actions should be. Up to each state to support or reject.

So if you believe in reproductive rights for women, live in California. If you don't, live in Texas.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 1, 2014 at 1:17 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

CA Def, Can I believe in reproductive rights for women who want to pay for it themselves and still live in California?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 1, 2014 at 2:22 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Quackster, why does ANYONE need to consult their doctor to purchase a box of Trojans??? Everything else you write here is more of your b______.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | July 1, 2014 at 3:28 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't understand why a company should have to pay money so their employees can have sex.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 1, 2014 at 4:05 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Employers provide insurance plans (well technically employees contribute to this through their paychecks) - why should an employer's religious beliefs dictate what medications a person can get through their insurance plan as long as they are legal, FDA approved and prescribed by a doctor?

That's ridiculous.

I predict a huge backlash from this case,

Republicans who defend this can expect even more trouble attracting women voters to their side.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 1, 2014 at 4:16 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

mission, if what I wrote is "b______", then refute what I said with fact instead of name calling.

I said Alito gave no legal basis to that guarantees this will remain "narrow" and apply only to contraception.

If that's b______ then site from his opinion what legal basis there is for that.

Just because he writes that as his opinion won't stop lawsuits from being filed using this as precedence to argue against vaccines, blood transfusions, and who knows what else.

Justice Ginsberg was absolutely correct in her dissent.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'danicaB'

danicaB | July 1, 2014 at 11:48 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Nice discussion. Contraceptives are widely used around the world. It is important for the women's health as well as for family planning to prevent women to have a lot of kids.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | July 2, 2014 at 7:20 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Hooray for California!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 2, 2014 at 8:03 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Why should Hobby Lobby be on the hook for this? The employees have many choices here.
Find another job.
Pay for their own.
Refrain from casual sex.
Quit complaining and take the provided benefits that others would be happy to get.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 2, 2014 at 8:23 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Muckapoo, if Hobby Lobby is hiring people to work for them and paying for their insurance plans, they should not be allowed to dictate what is provided in those plans based on their person religious views.

Would you be OK if strict Islamic business owners dictate exceptions to people's insurance based on their views?

I bet you would be singing a different tune if Hobby Lobby owners were Muslim.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 2, 2014 at 9:07 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

PDSD, why do you believe it is not OK for an employer to enter into a private contract without infringing on doctor-patient medical options but it is OK for the government to insert itself into the issue by requiring those same medical options?

I get that contraception is a great thing. I wish more people were using it, but I really think that if the government is concerned about providing contraception they would be better served starting at the welfare line than in private insurance.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 2, 2014 at 9:23 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Benz, the government is not forcing contraception on anyone, they are simply not exempting it - and why should they? These are FDA approved drugs.

The Government's responsibility as far as medications, medical devices, and biologics is to make sure they are SAFE and EFFICACIOUS and then to grant approval for them. This has nothing to do with religion, or people's personal beliefs it has to do with science.

The Employer's responsibility is to provide health insurance of which the employee, based on their doctor's orders and their own personal beliefs, can then take any drug deemed needed as long as it's FDA approved.

Why does there need to be this middle layer of the Employer injecting their person views into this?

Religious freedom is guaranteed at the person level, if an employee doesn't want to take contraceptives for religious purposes they don't have to.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | July 2, 2014 at 9:34 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Peking you are right, religious freedom is guaranteed at a personal level. So if a person owns a company, the government cannot force them to buy something for their employees against their religion.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 2, 2014 at 9:52 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

PDSD, I agree the government is not forcing contraception on anyone. I further agree with you when you say "The Government's responsibility as far as medications, medical devices, and biologics is to make sure they are SAFE and EFFICACIOUS and then to grant approval for them." Specifically it is not the government's duty to supply them or force others to supply them.

When you say "The Employer's responsibility is to provide health insurance of which the employee, based on their doctor's orders and their own personal beliefs, can then take any drug deemed needed as long as it's FDA approved." I have a few issues. First I don't agree with the overall claim on the moral level unless it is part of the terms of employment (absent government mandate). On the legal level it is mostly true but the same court that made the (IMO) error of allowing it to stand also specifically weakened it with this exception to which you object. I think we both agree on what is but differ on what 'ought to be'.

PDSD "Why does there need to be this middle layer of the Employer injecting their person views into this?" At least in this case, because the other option was to dismiss the employees, which seems to serve no one's interest.

Why do you feel it is acceptable for the government to require it as part of employment?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 2, 2014 at 10:01 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Benz, my point about the government is that I don't think the government should go through each and every medication and decide which is acceptable and which isn't. Nor should an Employer. This is what we have the FDA for - a SCIENCE-BASED agency that approves drugs based on safety and efficacy.

I think that any decision that falls outside of the realm of safety and efficacy (religion, person beliefs, etc.) should be up to the INDIVIDUAL only and NOT the government OR the employer OR the insurer.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | July 2, 2014 at 10:51 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

So if I own a company I am no longer an individual?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 2, 2014 at 12:01 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

PDSD, it is up to the individual. Any FDA approved medication is available to any person with a prescription who wants to pay for it. At least I think it is. Are you seeing a situation where this is not the case?

The distinction is that if an employer is paying the bill the employer needs to have a say in the contents of the shopping basket. Similarly, if we degenerate to the point where the government is paying the bill, I expect the government would have a say in what is included in the billed service.

If you take your kids out to eat and they ask for lobster, champagne and caviar I believe you are entitled to decline to purchase those items for them. As soon as they are paying the bill the dynamic changes.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 2, 2014 at 12:53 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Benz - the company has a right to what is in the shopping basket - and insurance plan.

The employer doesn't need to nor should they go through and put exclusions based on individual medications due to their person religious viewpoints that their employees may not share.

As far as cost, the employer does have the right to determine percents of coverage covered, but they should not have any say in moral/medical decisions about specifics medications - that is simply an over-reach.

And I also don't buy this whole "employer paying for it". Employers partially pay for insurance plans, but they are supplemented by employees. Employees still pay premiums out of their salary and the companies themselves get huge group discounts on insurance plans.

Why should an individual who pays for an insurance premium out of their personal pay and who contributes to a large group discount that the employer is getting to insure their employees be under the thumb of the employers personal religious believes? Does the share employees contribute themselves to their insurance plans mean nothing?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 2, 2014 at 12:54 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

an insurance plan - not and insurance plan.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 3, 2014 at 7:06 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

PDSD, I rhink this whole issue could be avoided if we allowed employees to fund their private health care purchases with their own money. Once the paycheck transfers from the employer to the employee there is no moral or regulatory problem. That way everybody (who is smart enough to buy insurance or save for their upcomming expenses) wins.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 3, 2014 at 10:14 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Benz, I'm not sure I understand your last comment. I am in favor of a single-payer system which cuts out insurance companies, I think that would solve the problem, but unfortunately we are stuck with an insurance based medical system for the foreseeable future.

Health care without insurance is cost-prohibitive to even people who make good solid upper middle class salaries.

Should companies also be able to dictate what their employees use their paychecks for? What they do on weekends?

Insurance coverage is part of a person's overall compensation package - it is negotiated up-front and is given to employees as part of an overall compensation package along with their salary and bonus schedule.

In fact, salaries are often tailored with these benefits in mind.

Should Hobby Lobby be able to tell people they can't use their bonuses to donate to Planned Parenthood?

An employees compensation - be it their health insurance, life insurance, bonus, all that is the EMPLOYEE'S compensation and there should be no moral obligation based on the employer's personal religious freedoms attached to it.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 4, 2014 at 7:35 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I find it interesting. People here who want more provided choices for baby killing are the same one who want special care for minor illegals. Hobby Lobby has rights too. If you don't like their choice, go somewhere else.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'sdvoice'

sdvoice | July 5, 2014 at 9:43 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

JeanMarc "I don't understand why a company should have to pay money so their employees can have sex."

I assume if I'm following your reasoning correctly you are also against Viagra, Cialis, etc. being covered by insurance since they are solely for men who have erectile dysfunction so they can have sex...why should companies have to pay for them to have sex?

And have you actually fact checked anything about what the cost is for including contraceptive benefits within health insurance policies? Here are some facts:

http://business.time.com/2012/02/14/why-free-birth-control-will-not-hike-the-cost-of-your-insurance/

"The truth is that both insurers and employers who self-insure save money in the long run by covering contraception. So much money is saved that it makes financial sense to waive co-pays and deductibles. A 2000 study by the National Business Group on Health estimates that not providing contraceptive coverage in employee health plans winds up costing employers 15% to 17% more than providing such coverage."

How could that be you ask...well..."Contraception is expensive only if you think of birth control in terms of the individual woman’s upfront costs, rather than looking long-term at the “net cost” to the insurer and factor in all the dollars saved when customers don’t become pregnant."

According to Guttmacher report “couples using no method of contraception” run a whopping “85% chance of an unintended pregnancy within 12 months.” Insurers that waive co-pays also avoid shelling out for complications that often accompany unplanned pregnancies, including high-risk situations such as births of successive children that are not properly spaced out, a woman who does not know she is pregnant and drinks during those crucial first months, and pre-teen girls having children."

And since pregnancy and labor and delivery is covered by most insurance...I think L&D costs are more than the coverage of contraception? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe the cost of a pregnancy and labor and delivery is much more than the cost of contraception.

"This helps explain a PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate that if a plan that currently offers no contraception covered the full range of services and products — “without cost-sharing” — the plan would wind up spending just “$37 to $41 more per member per year.” As the 2011 Guttmacher report notes, ‘$40 per member per year is miniscule when compared with average insurance premiums: $5,049 for an individual employee and $13,770 for family coverage.” Also minor when compared to the average cost insurance pays for labor and delivery [The average uncomplicated pregnancy these days — including labor and delivery — costs $6,000 to $8,000 from start to finish].

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'sdvoice'

sdvoice | July 5, 2014 at 9:53 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

muckapoo1 "I find it interesting. People here who want more provided choices for baby killing are the same one who want special care for minor illegals. Hobby Lobby has rights too. If you don't like their choice, go somewhere else."

Yes it is interesting and ironic. People here who want to abolish pro choice are the same ones who want to refuse care to all minors - illegal and legal. They want to save the unborn and then abandon them to parents who can't, won't, aren't able to take care of these poor, helpless beings. Oh yes, when it's an unborn inside a women's body it's their concern, but once it's born and in the world, "not my problem".

I'm not a strong advocate for pro choice or pro life, I am, however, a strong advocate for children, the disabled, the poor, and elderly. In other words, the vulnerable. I don't believe I have a right to impose my beliefs on others...and if I were to impose my beliefs on others, I believe I bear some responsibility for the consequences.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'mccolgan55'

mccolgan55 | July 5, 2014 at 10:53 a.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

To all of your comments, you might want to do some real fact checking. First, Planned Parenthood is not exactly an impartial source, they get hundreds of millions of tax dollars to supply birth control including abortifacient drugs and devices as well as abortions. Second, Hobby Lobby does provide 16 of 20 FDA approved birth control methods. Third, the comment in the story "with exemptions only for self-insured" would include Hobby Lobby as I believe they are self insured.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'sdvoice'

sdvoice | July 5, 2014 at 1:47 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Here's some facts on Planned Parenthood:

http://www.factcheck.org/2011/04/planned-parenthood/

Abortions represent 3 percent of total services provided by Planned Parenthood, and roughly 10 percent of its clients received an abortion. The group does receive federal funding, but the money cannot be used for abortions by law. I respect your objections to abortions and aboritfacient drugs and devices, but they are legal. And yes you have the right to speak your opinion, just like I do.

Here's some facts on Hobby Lobby:

http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/01/investing/hobby-lobby-401k-contraception/

Before the ACA became law, Hobby Lobby actually had provided coverage for all 20 FDA-approved contraceptive procedures required under the law. But once it became a mandate, the owners decided to object to four on religious grounds: Two “morning after” emergency contraceptive pills, Plan B and ella, and hormonal and copper intrauterine devices (IUDs).

Also like many companies, Hobby Lobby offers its employees a 401(k) plan. Over 13,000 past and present employees have taken advantage of that plan, according to the latest documents filed with the Department of Labor.

Employees have the option to put their retirement dollars -- and the money that Hobby Lobby contributes on their behalf -- into over a dozen different mutual funds.

At least eight of those funds have been invested in companies that produce contraceptives such as Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA), Bayer (BAYRY), and Pfizer (PFE), according to a CNNMoney analysis. Teva makes Plan B. At least one fund also held Forest Laboratories, which makes a drug that is used to induce abortions.

Hobby Lobby has not responded to CNN requests for comment about its retirement plan. Mother Jones broke the story about the company's 401(k) plan in April.

There are ways Hobby Lobby could strip out investments dealing with contraceptives.

I wonder if Hobby Lobby will make changes to their investment portfolio to strip out these 4 objectionable methods to them the same way they did with their insurance plan....

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 5, 2014 at 6:53 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

First reply to Duck from July 2 makes perfect sense, but then it falls apart as expected with your Social Darwinist cheap/shot cliche.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 5, 2014 at 6:58 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

SDVOICE, up to $75 for a quarterly depo shot and possibly more JUST BECAUSE live-in Bad Boy boyfriend doesn't want to put on Trojan man with the rubbery spikes. The first time would ALSO include a doctor's visit payment or co-payment as well. The MORE one uses our medical insurance, the more it goes up in the long run and the more DIFFICULT to negotiate better terms for employees.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 5, 2014 at 6:59 p.m. ― 2 months, 2 weeks ago

@Mccoglan, DEFINATELY NOT impartial or objective.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | July 7, 2014 at 9:41 a.m. ― 2 months, 1 week ago

I don't want to pay for women to run around like promiscuous tramps. They can pay for their own birth control. I bought a helmet for when I ride my bicycle, to protect myself during my optional recreational activity. These women can likewise buy protection for their optional recreational activity.

( | suggest removal )