The Trump administration is expected to roll back the regulations that make it mandatory for employer-provided insurance plans to cover birth control at no cost.
The New York Times reports that the new rules could come as soon as Friday. The changes would exempt employers and insurance companies from covering birth control at no cost if that practice contradicts their religious or moral beliefs.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans have to cover birth control for women at no cost, a rule referred to as the birth control mandate. Before the ACA, many women had to pay for birth control — including pills and implanted devices like IUDs — putting it out of reach for many.
The forthcoming roll-back could mean that hundreds of thousands of women who currently don’t have to pay for pills and devices could once again be asked to do so.
Birth control coverage has long been in the crosshairs of some Republican lawmakers. The ACA mandate led to a number of lawsuits, including the Supreme Court case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby argued that because of its owner’s religious belief, the company should be exempt from paying for plans that cover contraception. The court’s decision enabled certain closely-held corporations like Hobby Lobby to exclude birth control coverage for religious reasons.
A year after the birth control mandate went into effect, there was a 5% uptick in the number of women who filled prescriptions, the National Women’s Law Center reports. And in 2016, the teen birth rate hit an all-time low, which can in part be attributed to the birth control coverage provided by the ACA.
Amid fears that the birth control mandate might be repealed after the 2016 election, there was a spike in women who got IUDs, a long-acting form of birth control that is covered under the ACA and can last for years.
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