- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

One in 10 large nonprofits has asked the administration to shield it from Obamacare’s birth-control rules, according to a survey released Tuesday that says many of them are likely Catholic colleges or hospitals that would qualify for the “accommodation” at the heart of an upcoming fight before the Supreme Court.

As part of its annual health benefits survey, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 10 percent of nonprofits with at least 1,000 workers and 3 percent of nonprofits with at least 10 employees say they have asked the government to put a firewall between them and the contraceptive coverage that its female employers must receive.

At issue is the “contraception mandate,” an outgrowth of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that requires employers to cover 20 types of FDA-approved drugs and services as part of their health plans.

Pitched as a boon for women’s health, the rules spawned immediately controversy and resulted in dozens of lawsuits. In particular, devout business owners and faith-based nonprofits object to covering morning-after pills that they equate with abortion.

The Kaiser survey offers the first national look at the nonprofit side’s appetite for an accommodation, which the Health and Human Services Department drafted amid the pushback from faith-based hospitals, colleges and charities.

While actual houses of worship are exempt from the mandate, nonprofits with a religious affiliation may apply for the accommodation.

Under that policy, the nonprofits notify either their insurers or the federal government of their objection to providing contraception, and the insurers or plan administrators would then step in and make sure employees can get contraception without the religious charity having to pay for it.

HHS also extended the accommodation to closely held corporations who beat back the mandate before the Supreme Court in 2014.

In March, the court will look beyond the mandate itself and decide if the government’s olive branch to the objecting nonprofits still imposes an undue burden.

The justices will hear from seven faith-based colleges and ministries who say the administration’s waiver still makes them complicit in sinful activity, so they should receive a full exemption from the rules.

It is the fourth time that a skirmish over all or part of Obamacare has made it to the Supreme Court.

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